“A man without ethics is a wild beast loosened upon this world” an adage by Albert Camus truly defines the nature of humans. A person of good ethical values is considered a boon to the society whereas a person without moral values is nothing but a bane for the society.
Ethics is defined as ‘moral standards’ which helps a person to differentiatebetween right and wrong. Every society has certain norms and values according to which they live in this world. Different people have different perceptions regarding ethics. What is right for one person may not be appropriate for other one. For instance, a person who lies and cheats in Islam is considered immoral; not only Islam but even other religion as well. Without ethics, a man or even a society is corrupted.
However, the question arises that is it only relevant to the society? What about organizations, institutes or even companies? Do they need to follow principles? We know that every person is responsible for their own conduct but it is equally important for any organization to have certain code of conduct that determines its nature of work.
Therefore in health care an ethical code is also important because here, lives of people are at stake. Since we know that a person if morally bounded will be more careful. According to the biomedical research, health care should have the code of conduct that should be followed stringently. Medical ethics are the code of conduct for doctors and physicians to follow
Back in times, ancient Egypt was the first one that applied ethics in medical profession. The first known document dealing with ethics was Egyptian papyri in 16th century B.C.; in the same era, Hammurabi set the codes for the physicians and surgeons. Moreover, Hippocrates, the father of medicine said 2500 years ago: “To observe all, study the patient rather than the disease, evaluate honestly and assist nature.” Even the Hippocrates oath was also based on ethics; though the oath has been amended many times by different countries. Recent times, World Medical Association is the largest assembly of doctors that has deliberated since 1948 regarding code; with the help of their guidelines, most of medical associations of the countries follow these principles by making certain amendments according to their facility.
There are certain codes for the physicians to follow; for instance to keep the secret of patients with themselves and do not leak it out. A doctor should give utmost importance to the emergencies if any other doctor is not provided. Human lives are very important and they should be taken care regardless of the monetary benefits. A doctor should be honourable as well as work in service of humanity; a doctor must also be truthful to the patients. They should also reveal the quack or fake doctors to if they find any.
Regardless of these codes of conduct, what we have seen in Pakistan is absolute negation of these codes. Doctors do not put sincerity to their work rather they look ways for monetary gain. As saying goes: “Health is Wealth” but over here, if you are wealthy or powerful person you are treated very well whereas the poor ones haveto suffer through quacks. These codes are broken openly over here. We have seen the negligence in Lahore where so many people have died due to fake medicines prescribed by these doctors. It is true that a knowledgeable and skilful doctor is of no use if he/she is morally weak. For instance, the protests staged by Young Doctors’ Association (YDA) for their ad-hoc transfer issue last month, led to the closure of major healthcare facilities, which deprived health care access to the patients-an unethical approach in the eyes of morality. Similarly, the dealing of doctors with the pharmaceutical industries leads physicians to prescribe expensive medicines to the patients, irrespective of their financial status. In return, these doctors are given incentives and perks by these pharmaceutical companies which basically promote unethical practices. Moreover, there are some physicians who at times, prescribe unnecessary tests that are costly for the poor patients, but they emphasize for these tests to be conducted by specific laboratory, to which they have partnered with. It seems that these doctors, physicians and health care management have forgotten the principles and code of ethics; only black law is followed everywhere.
Having said that, there are some rotten eggs which are present in every organization, same like in medical field but what is needed to adopt immediate measures to identify and rectify these rotten practitioners taking advantage of their hapless patients.