Dr Judith Kennedy1
1Consulting Rooms, Manly, Australia
Medical practitioners treat patients. They can also make a wider contribution to society through opportunistic use of the treatment episode for activities such as research, teaching or encouraging organ donation. Irrespective of the purpose of the activity, there are two ethical constants governing doctor behaviour in all settings that are so objectively clear they would seem to require no further explanation. The first is the requirement of consent of the person before things that are done to them. The second is the prohibition on killing. Using Australian examples on the public record, this paper points to a shift in practice with respect to these two constants. The shift is from regarding the ethical constants as constraints, to regarding them as concerns to be balanced against other factors.
Judith Kennedy is a psychologist who has worked in public and private health sectors for over 20 years with a long standing interest in problematic treatment behaviour . She has an MA in Ethics in Healthcare and PhD in Professional & Applied Ethics.