SJT: Key Domains – Ethics

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July 9, 2014 by Emedica

The UKCAT doesn’t expect you to be experts in medical ethics! There are long, complex (and probably very dull!) papers written on the intricacies of confidentiality and the intricacies of consent! ‘Good practice’ changes all the time in response to new information and data. Being impartial may be a core medical principle…. but it is recognised that it’s a hard human skill!

What they WILL expect is a level of ‘common sense’! They want to know you’re the kind of person who is ‘trainable’ in these areas.

So here’s a few basics… just in case common sense isn’t as common as presumed!

  • Confidentiality

A patient and doctor relationship is privileged. A patient should be able to speak to their doctor freely without risk of the doctor telling someone else what has been said. The doctor can’t speak of the conversation to the patient’s family and friends, to their own family and friends, even (often) to their own colleagues. Any scenario which involves chatting about, gossiping about, writing about or tweeting about a patient is about confidentiality – at least to some degree.

  •  Consent

The reason consent is so important is that patients have autonomy – that is the right to make decisions about their own lives and care. Doctors must seek permission to give them treatment, not impose treatment upon them. In a UKCAT level of SJT this might involve something like changing a prescription without telling a patient.

  • Good practice

Best practice changes all the time – data comes in and the protocols are responsive to that. What’s important for you to know is that guidelines and policies are there for a reason and must, whenever possible, be adhered to. Trying to bend the rules is likely to lead to ramifications far beyond the situation you are judging!

  • Impartiality

The person providing the treatment doesn”t get to decide who is deserving, or otherwise of that treatment! Tempting as it is for an A&E doctor to treat the small child with a cut on their arm before the offensive smelly drunk with a head injury…. they’re not supposed to!


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