Self-Defeating Codes of Medical Ethics and How to Fix Them: Failures in COVID-19 Response and Beyond
Alex John London, Clara L. West Professor of Ethics and Philosophy, Director, Center for Ethics and Policy, Carnegie Mellon University
Wednesday, 21 October 2020, 2.30pm to 4pm
This WEH/Ethox seminar will be held on Zoom, see link below.
Statements of the core ethical and professional responsibilities of medical professionals are incomplete in ways that threaten fundamental goals of medicine. First, in the absence of explicit guidance for responding to cases in which there is significant uncertainty or disagreement about the relative therapeutic, prophylactic or diagnostic merits of available interventions they perpetuate self-defeating practices. Second, without addressing the role of advertising in shaping patient and community preferences they risk creating moral loopholes that bypass and undermine professional duties of fidelity, honesty and transparency. In both cases, these flaws are exacerbated by an individualism that ignores the critical role of health systems in managing and reducing uncertainty and conflict over best practices, and in communicating with and shaping the expectations of the public. These points are illustrated with examples from the response to COVID-19 and suggestions for reform are proposed.