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Code Provides Ethical Behaviour Recommendations

Wednesday, 3 April 2002

Code Provides Recommendations For Ethical Behaviour

The New Zealand Medical Association has released a revised Code of Ethics for the medical profession.

"The NZMA has traditionally undertaken the task of providing a Code of Ethics for the medical profession, and it is one of our most important functions," said NZMA Chairman Dr John Adams. "The purpose of the Code, by encouraging doctors to meet ethical standards, is to protect the people of New Zealand.

"The Code lays down principles of ethical behaviour and provides recommendations for professional medical practice. It is applicable to all doctors, including those who may not be engaged directly in clinical practice. All NZMA members must agree to comply with the Code."

The new Code replaces one which had been in place for about 12 years, and has been extensively updated and extended. A review was carried out to keep pace with developments in medical and societal values, and in the context of the 1996 Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights. "The Code of Ethics is used widely by many different organisations as the standard of medical ethics for the medical profession," said Dr Adams. "It sets out 11 ethical principles and provides recommendations for ethical behaviour."

The NZMA has been involved in medical ethics since its inception in 1886. Ethical codes for the medical profession date back to the Hippocratic Oath, and have evolved since then.

An initial review of the NZMA Code was carried out by a group of medical practitioners with experience in ethical issues. Detailed work on the new draft was then undertaken by the NZMA Ethics Committee. Widespread consultation was carried out, with medical professional organisations, individual doctors, and the Health and Disability Commissioner providing feedback.

The Code is available to all on the NZMA website, at: www.nzma.org.nz/about/ethics.html.

Ends

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