OBJECTIVES: To determine the epidemiology and the underlying pathological conditions of natural deaths among motor vehicle drivers. Sudden death while driving may cause damage to properties, other vehicles or road users. Although the Medical Commission on Accident Prevention recommended restrictions to drivers at risk of sudden death due to their medical conditions, these restrictions are useless if they do not result in greater safety to the public. DESIGN: A retrospective study of natural deaths of motor vehicle drivers. SETTING: Natural deaths of motor vehicle drivers reported to the coroner for Birmingham and Solihull. SUBJECTS: 86 consecutive natural deaths of motor vehicle drivers in a five-year period between 1984 and 1988. RESULTS: Of the 86 fatalities reviewed, 80 (93%) sudden deaths were caused by ischaemic heart disease. Fifty vehicles were involved in collision with 32 properties, 20 other vehicles and six pedestrians. Fifty-one out of 80 cardiac deaths had past cardiac history and three had reported chest pain prior to the sudden death. CONCLUSION: An applied normative ethical assessment based on the basic moral principles of autonomy, justice, beneficence and non-maleficence are discussed. We conclude that medical screening of drivers has little benefit for the drivers or other persons.
Privacy is an important concern in any research programme that deals with personal medical data. In recent years, ethics and privacy have become key considerations when conducting any form of scientific research that involves personal data. These issues are now addressed in healthcare professional training programmes. Indeed, ethics, legal frameworks and privacy are often the subject of much confusion in discussions among healthcare professionals. They tend to group these different concepts under the same heading and delegate responsibility for “ethical” approval of their research programmes to ethics committees. Public health researchers therefore need to ask questions about how changes to legal frameworks and ethical codes governing privacy in the use of personal medical data are to be applied in practice. What types of data do these laws and codes cover? Who is involved? What restrictions and requirements apply to any research programme that involves medical data?
Privacy; Medical data; Ethical considerations; Data analysis
Physicians-in-training today are learning in an ethical environment that is unprecedented in its complexity. There is a call for new approaches in preparing medical students and residents for the ethical and professional issues they will encounter. The perspectives of physicians-in-training at different levels regarding the level of curricular attention needed for emerging bioethics concepts, practical informed consent considerations, and the care of special populations are unknown.
The authors performed a hypothesis-driven, confidential survey study to assess perceived needs and preferences among medical students and residents related to medical ethics education at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.
A total of 336 physicians-in-training volunteered (62% response rate). Overall, strong interest was expressed for increased curricular attention to the domains of bioethics principles, informed consent, and care of special populations. Women students expressed greater interest generally. For certain domains, clinical students expressed relatively less curricular need and psychiatry and primary care residents expressed relatively greater curricular need. Two of the four hypotheses were supported, a third received partial support, and a fourth was not supported by the findings.
To be valuable and effective, new ethics curricular approaches must be responsive to the current complex ethical environment and attentive to the preferences of medical students and residents of both genders, at different stages of training, with different patient care responsibilities. This hypothesis-driven study provides guidance for the inclusion of novel and important ethics domains in training curricula across medical school and diverse residency programs.
This paper relates the neglected history of an idealistic, secret medical fraternity which existed briefly in Lexington, Kentucky, during the first half of the 19th century. It was created for students in the Medical Department at Transylvania University, the fifth US medical school, founded in 1799. One goal of the fraternity was to counter the widespread dissension and often violent quarrels among doctors that characterized American medicine of that period. And to that end, it was among the first to promote Thomas Percival's code of medical ethics in this country. Branches of the fraternity were established in Philadelphia and New York City, where members became influential in local medical politics but in time encountered hostility from rival physicians. The secret character of the fraternity branches was publicized and maligned during an anti-Masonic movement in this country in the 1830s, which soon led to the demise of the Philadelphia group. The New York branch remained active through the 1860s. Members of both branches were among those who in 1847 established the American Medical Association and devised its Principles of Medical Ethics.
One strategy for the prevention of motor vehicle crashes is physician reporting of medically unfit drivers to vehicle licensing authorities, as mandated by law in Ontario, Canada. We studied drivers involved in life-threatening crashes who required hospital admission to determine how many had previously been seen and reported by a physician in the community.
We identified consecutive drivers involved in a crash who were admitted to Canada’s largest trauma centre between 30 June 1996 and 30 June 2001 to assess the prevalence of 3 chronic medical conditions reportable to vehicle licensing authorities (alcohol abuse, cardiac disease, and neurological disorders). We then conducted a case series analysis of linked health and transportation databases to determine how many drivers had previously been seen and reported by a physician in the community.
A total of 1,605 injured drivers were identified, of whom 37% had a reportable condition (95% confidence interval [CI] 35–39). Those with a reportable condition had made a total of 20,505 previous visits to 2,332 physicians during the five years before the crash. The majority of patients with a reportable condition (85%, 95% CI 82–88) had seen a physician in the year before the crash but few (3%, 95% CI 2–4) had been reported to licensing authorities. Alcohol abuse was the most common underlying reportable condition (prevalent in 72% of trauma patients with a reportable condition) and the least common reason for a previous report (reported in 2% of those with a reportable condition).
Unsafe drivers often visit physicians and yet are rarely reported to licensing authorities even under mandatory reporting laws for preventive medical reporting.
Practicing physicians are frequently faced with the question of whether or not to institute cardiopulmonary resuscitation in case of cardiac or respiratory arrest in a patient in hospital. Medical training has usually not included any systematic analysis of this issue from either an ethical or a legal standpoint. Many physicians may be unaware that ethical and legal principles, as well as professional guidelines, exist to guide such decision making. In practice, physicians make this decision without the benefit of training in ethical analysis. The problem is especially acute in teaching hospitals when young physicians unacquainted with formal ethics or the law must often make decisions emergently. Studies show some discrepancy between ethical and legal principles and the actual decision making by physicians. For this reason, we recommend an approach that will enable physicians to make and implement decisions not to resuscitate that are consistent with current ethical and legal standards.
Although immunization is one of the most important health interventions of the 20th century, cases of infectious disease continue to occur. There are parents who refuse immunization for their children, creating a dilemma for the primary care physician who must consider the best interest of the individual child as well as that of the community. Some physicians, when faced with parents who refuse immunization on behalf of their children, choose to dismiss these families from their practice. Given the existing shortage of primary care physicians across Canada, this decision to dismiss families based on vaccine refusal has far-reaching implications. The present article explores this issue in the Canadian context from a legal, ethical and public health perspective.
Ethics; Health law; Patient dismissal; Public health; Vaccination
The Tuskegee University National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care was established in 1999 in partial response to the Presidential Apology for the United States Public Health Service's Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male conducted in Macon County, Alabama, from 1932 to 1972. The Center's mission of promoting equity and justice in health and health care for African Americans and other underserved populations employs an integrative bioethics approach informed by moral vision. Etymological and historical analyses are used to delineate the meaning and evolution of bioethics and to provide a basis for Tuskegee's integrative bioethics niche. Unlike mainstream bioethics, integrative bioethics practice is holistic in orientation, and more robust for understanding the epistemic realities of minority life, health disparities, and population health. The conclusion is that integrative bioethics is relevant to the survival of all people, not just a privileged few; it could be the new ethics for the public's health.
Integrative bioethics; mainstream bioethics; syphilis study; population health; public health; public health ethics; cancer health disparities research; holism; reflective equilibrium; moral vision; particularities; diversity; right action
Physicians often are asked for advice about medical matters by relatives and friends. These range from requests for simple information to requests for medical opinion and judgment and more substantial involvement by the physician. I comment on the motivations and expectations of the requester and the physician, and the legal, ethical, and practical considerations related to such requests. I recommend: (1) Be clear about the expectations of the requester and yourself, including whether you are being asked for simple factual information, your medical judgment and opinion, or more substantial involvement in the situation. (2) Treat your interactions with relatives or friends with the same professional expertise and judgment as you would any patient. (3) Be aware that a physical examination and especially charging a fee strengthen the establishment of a legal relationship with the requester as your patient. (4) Respect the requester’s autonomy and confidentiality and conform to HIPAA requirements where applicable. (5) Be aware of the potential conflict between your roles as a relative or friend and as a physician.
medical advice; ethics; law
Malaria is a disease of developing countries whose local health services do not have the time, resources or personnel to mount studies of drugs or vaccines without the collaboration and technology of western investigators. This investigative collaboration requires a unique bridging of cultural differences with respect to human investigation. The following debate, sponsored by The Institute of Medicine and The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, raises questions concerning the conduct of trans-cultural clinical malaria research. Specific questions are raised about the difficulties of informed consent in different cultural settings and whether there is any role for community involvement. Discussants debate whether drug and vaccine trials not approved in an industrialised country are ever defensible if performed in a third-world setting. Potential conflicting priorities between investigators are discussed and ideas regarding conflict resolution are offered.
The identification and evaluation of medically impaired drivers is an important safety issue. Medical fitness to drive is applicable to all ages but is particularly salient for older adults. Voluntary procedures, whereby various professionals and family members may report medical fitness concerns to State driver license bureaus, are common in the United States. This paper examines traffic crashes of drivers reported during 2001–2005 under the State of Missouri’s voluntary reporting law (House Bill HB-1536) and the resulting licensing outcomes.
Missouri’s law is non-specific as to age, but the mean age of reported drivers was 80. Reports were submitted by police officers (30%), license office staff (27%), physicians (20%), family members (16%), and others (7%). The most common medical condition was dementia/cognitive (45%). Crash history for reported drivers was higher than that of controls, dating back to 1993, reaching a peak in 2001 when the crash involvement of reported drivers was 9.3% vs. 2.2% for controls—a fourfold difference. The crash involvement of reported drivers decreased rapidly after, indicating the impact of HB-1536 reporting with subsequent license revocation and to a lesser degree, mortality. Of the 4,100 reported individuals, 144 (3.5%) retained a driver’s license after the process.
fitness to drive; aging; voluntary reporting; older driver; crash history; driver licensing; medical impairment; safety
Review of the legal and ethical basis for reproductive endocrinologists to refuse ovulation induction to patients with diminished ovarian reserve.
The Lexis-Nexis search engine was used to perform a legal review pertaining to refusal of treatment. Ethical opinions of medical organizations were also reviewed.
Federal antidiscrimination laws provide legal recourse for patients with diminished ovarian reserve who are denied ovulation induction. However, the same laws also permit refusal of care when there is bona fide medical justification to decline services. In addition, the codes of ethics for relevant professional organizations support physicians’ decisions to refuse treatment when treatment is futile.
Although it is ethically and legally permissible to deny ovulation induction to patients with diminished ovarian reserve when medically justified, refusal may invite retaliatory litigation. Counseling remains a cornerstone in directing these patients to options with more potential for success, such as donor eggs and adoption.
Ethics; Diminished ovarian reserve; Ovulation induction; Discrimination; Liability
The prediction of susceptibility to heritable breast, ovarian and colon cancer raises important legal and ethical concerns. Health care professionals have a duty to disclose sufficient information to enable patients to make informed decisions. They must also safeguard the confidentiality of patient data. These duties may come into conflict if a positive finding in one patient implies that family members are also at risk. A legal distinction is made between a breach of confidentiality and the legitimate sharing of information in a patient's interest or to prevent harm to a third party. Physicians also have a fiduciary duty to warn. Other issues concern the legal liability assumed by genetic counsellors, whose disclosures may influence decisions about childbearing, for example, and the risk of socioeconomic discrimination faced by people with a known genetic susceptibility. Traditional ethical orientations and principals may be applied to these and other questions, but feminist ethics will likely have particular importance in the development of an ethical stance toward testing and counseling for heritable breast and ovarian cancer.
Neurocognitive deficits from brain tumours may impair the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Although certain jurisdictions in Canada legally require that physicians report patients who are unfit to drive, criteria for determining fitness are not clearly defined for brain tumours.
Patients receiving brain radiotherapy at our institution from January to June 2009 were identified using the Oncology Patient Information System. In addition to descriptive statistics, details of driving assessment were reviewed retrospectively. The Fisher exact test was used to determine factors predictive of reporting a patient to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (mto) as unfit to drive. A logistic regression model was constructed to further determine factors predictive of reporting.
Of the 158 patients available for analysis, 48 (30%) were reported to the mto, and 64 (41%) were advised to stop driving. With respect to the 53 patients with seizures, a report was submitted to the mto for 30 (57%), and a documented discussion about the implications of driving was held with 35 (66%). On univariate analysis, younger age, a central nervous system primary, higher brain radiotherapy dose, unifocal disease, and the presence of seizures were predictive of physician reporting (p < 0.05). On logistic regression modelling, the presence of seizures (odds ratio: 3.9) and a higher radiotherapy dose (odds ratio: 1.3) remained predictive of reporting.
Physicians frequently do not discuss the implications of driving with brain tumour patients or are not properly documenting such advice (or both). Clear and concise reporting guidelines need to be drafted given the legal, medical, and ethical concerns surrounding this public health issue.
Driving; brain tumours; Canadian heath care system; guidelines; radiation therapy
“Ethics” is used as a label for a new kind of expertise in the field of science and technology. At the same time, it is not clear what ethical expertise consists in and what its political status in modern democracies can be. Starting from the “participatory turn” in recent social research and policy, we will argue that bioethical reasoning has to include public views of and attitudes towards biomedicine. We will sketch the outlines of a bioethical conception of “public understanding of ethics,” addressing three different issues: (a) the methodological relevance of moral questions and problems raised by lay persons in everyday life regarding biomedicine and technology, (b) the normative relevance of such lay moralities for the justification of ethical decisions, and (c) the necessity of public deliberation in this context. Finally, we draw conclusions in view of the concepts and methods such a conception of “public understanding of ethics” should employ.
Ethics expertise; Public understanding of science; Lay moralities; Qualitative social research; Deliberation; Participation
In the face of all-hazards preparedness challenges, local and state health department personnel have to date lacked a discrete set of legally and ethically informed public health principles to guide the distribution of scarce resources in crisis settings. To help address this gap, we convened a Summit of academic and practice experts to develop a set of principles for legally and ethically sound public health resource triage decision-making in emergencies.
The invitation-only Summit, held in Washington, D.C., on June 29, 2006, assembled 20 experts from a combination of academic institutions and nonacademic leadership, policy, and practice settings. The Summit featured a tabletop exercise designed to highlight resource scarcity challenges in a public health infectious disease emergency. This exercise served as a springboard for Summit participants' subsequent identification of 10 public health emergency resource allocation principles through an iterative process.
The final product of the Summit was a set of 10 principles to guide allocation decisions involving scarce resources in public health emergencies. The principles are grouped into three categories: obligations to community; balancing personal autonomy and community well-being/benefit; and good preparedness practice.
The 10 Summit-derived principles represent an attempt to link law, ethics, and real-world public health emergency resource allocation practices, and can serve as a useful starting framework to guide further systematic approaches and future research on addressing public health resource scarcity in an all-hazards context.
Attention deficit–hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) remains a controversial disorder, despite it now being a well validated clinical diagnosis. Ethical and legal issues are important in determining how doctors should behave in offering a diagnosis or treatment that may generate strong and unpredictable reactions from children, their families, or other agencies. A model for routine ethical practice was proposed, based on three sets of assumptions. Firstly, that ethical practice is consistent with the four principles of beneficence, non‐maleficence, justice, and respect for autonomy. Secondly, ethical concerns lead to legal processes, whose task is to ensure ethical practice. Thirdly, that we are working in the interests of our patients. Current relevant literature was organised in terms of this model, and recommendations for practice derived from it. Though there is no general ethical problem regarding either the routine diagnosis or treatment of ADHD, ethical difficulties surround some special cases, especially when doctors are working in conjunction with other agencies or coping with non‐medical frameworks. Particular care needs to be taken with confidentiality and consent, the limits of which are currently confused. The model worked well with everyday ethical problems, though more difficult cases required careful individual scrutiny.
ADHD; ethics; hyperactivity; hyperkinesis; law
Social networking site use is increasingly common among emerging medical professionals, with medical schools even reporting disciplinary student expulsion. Medical professionals who use social networking sites have unique responsibilities since their postings could violate patient privacy. However, it is unknown whether students and residents portray protected health information and under what circumstances or contexts.
The objective of our study was to document and describe online portrayals of potential patient privacy violations in the Facebook profiles of medical students and residents.
A multidisciplinary team performed two cross-sectional analyses at the University of Florida in 2007 and 2009 of all medical students and residents to see who had Facebook profiles. For each identified profile, we manually scanned the entire profile for any textual or photographic representations of protected health information, such as portrayals of people, names, dates, or descriptions of procedures.
Almost half of all eligible students and residents had Facebook profiles (49.8%, or n=1023 out of 2053). There were 12 instances of potential patient violations, in which students and residents posted photographs of care they provided to individuals. No resident or student posted any identifiable patient information or likeness in text form. Each instance occurred in developing countries on apparent medical mission trips. These portrayals increased over time (1 in the 2007 cohort; 11 in 2009; P = .03). Medical students were more likely to have these potential violations on their profiles than residents (11 vs 1, P = .04), and there was no difference by gender. Photographs included trainees interacting with identifiable patients, all children, or performing medical examinations or procedures such as vaccinations of children.
While students and residents in this study are posting photographs that are potentially violations of patient privacy, they only seem to make this lapse in the setting of medical mission trips. Trainees need to learn to equate standards of patient privacy in all medical contexts using both legal and ethical arguments to maintain the highest professional principles. We propose three practical guidelines. First, there should be a legal resource for physicians traveling on medical mission trips such as an online list of local laws, or a telephone legal contact. Second, institutions that organize medical mission trips should plan an ethics seminar prior the departure on any trip since the legal and ethical implications may not be intuitive. Finally, at minimum, traveling physicians should apply the strictest legal precedent to any situation.
Protected health information, medical missions, Internet
Medical tourism involves patients’ intentional travel to privately obtain medical care in another country. Empirical evidence regarding health and safety risks facing medical tourists is limited. Consideration of this issue is dominated by speculation and lacks meaningful input from people with specific expertise in patient health and safety. We consulted with patient health and safety experts in the Canadian province of British Columbia to explore their views concerning risks that medical tourists may be exposed to. Herein, we report on the findings, linking them to existing ethical and legal issues associated with medical tourism.
We held a focus group in September 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia with professionals representing different domains of patient health and safety expertise. The focus group was transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically.
Seven professionals representing the domains of tissue banking, blood safety, health records, organ transplantation, dental care, clinical ethics and infection control participated.
Five dominant health and safety risks for outbound medical tourists were identified by participants: (1) complications; (2) specific concerns regarding organ transplantation; (3) transmission of antibiotic-resistant organisms; (4) (dis)continuity of medical documentation and (5) (un)informed decision-making.
Concern was expressed that medical tourism might have unintended and undesired effects upon patients’ home healthcare systems. The individual choices of medical tourists could have significant public consequences if healthcare facilities in their home countries must expend resources treating postoperative complications. Participants also expressed concern that medical tourists returning home with infections, particularly antibiotic-resistant infections, could place others at risk of exposure to infections that are refractory to standard treatment regimens and thereby pose significant public health risks.
Incidental findings found in “healthy” volunteers during research imaging are common and have important implications for study design and performance, particularly in the areas of informed consent, subjects' rights, clinical image analysis and disclosure. In this study, we aimed to determine current practice and regulations concerning information that should be given to research subjects when obtaining consent, reporting of research images, who should be informed about any incidental findings and the method of disclosure. We reviewed all UK, European and international humanitarian, legal and ethical agencies' guidance. We found that the guidance on what constitutes incidental pathology, how to recognise it and what to do about it is inconsistent between agencies, difficult to find and less complete in the UK than elsewhere. Where given, guidance states that volunteers should be informed during the consent process about how research images will be managed, whether a mechanism exists for identifying incidental findings, arrangements for their disclosure, the potential benefit or harm and therapeutic options. The effects of incidentally discovered pathology on the individual can be complex and far-reaching. Radiologist involvement in analysis of research images varies widely; many incidental findings might therefore go unrecognised. In conclusion, guidance on the management of research imaging is inconsistent, limited and does not address the interests of volunteers. Improved standards to guide management of research images and incidental findings are urgently required.
Rapid growth and expansion of plastic surgery in general and aesthetic surgery in particular in the past decade has brought in its wake some confusions particularly raising questions for the surgeons conduct towards his colleagues and the patients in the light of ethical requirements. Some thoughts from eminent thinkers form a backdrop to consideration of theories of medical ethics. In this article raging and continuous debates on these subjects have been avoided to maintain the momentum. Apart from the western thoughts, directions from our old scriptures on ethical conduct have been included to accommodate prevelant Indian practices. The confusion created by specialists advertising their abilities directly to the lay public following removal of ethical bars by the American Courts as also latitudes allowed by the General Medical Council of Great Britain have been discussed. The medical fraternity however has its reservations. Unnecessary skirmishes with the law arose in cosmetic surgery from the freedom exercised by the police to file criminal proceedings against attending doctors in the event of a patient's death with or without any evidence of wrong doing. This has now been curtailed in the judgement of the Supreme Court of India where norms have been laid down for such prosecution. This has helped doctors to function without fear of harassment. An effort has been made to state a simple day-to-day routine for an ethical doctor-patient relationship.
Aesthetic surgery; legal; medical ethics
In the United Kingdom (UK), advance directives have recently received considerable attention from professional and voluntary organizations as well as medical journals and the media. However, despite such exposure, many doctors remain uncertain of the importance or relevance of advance directives with regard to their own clinical practice. This paper addresses these uncertainties by first explaining what advance directives are and then describing the current legal status of such directives in the UK. Examination of the cases underpinning this status reveals several key elements: competence, information, anticipation, applicability, and freedom from duress. Each is discussed. Although this paper focuses on legal issues, it is important that medical law does not dominate medical ethics. Accordingly, the paper also discusses some important philosophical and sociological considerations that have remained largely unexplored in the medical press. Finally, the paper deals with practical matters, including how the general practitioner might be involved.
Rapid advances in high throughput genomic technologies and next generation sequencing are making medical genomic research more readily accessible and affordable, including the sequencing of patient and control whole genomes and exomes in order to elucidate genetic factors underlying disease. Over the next five years, the Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa) Initiative, funded by the Wellcome Trust (United Kingdom) and the National Institutes of Health (United States of America), will contribute greatly towards sequencing of numerous African samples for biomedical research.
Funding agencies and journals often require submission of genomic data from research participants to databases that allow open or controlled data access for all investigators. Access to such genotype-phenotype and pedigree data, however, needs careful control in order to prevent identification of individuals or families. This is particularly the case in Africa, where many researchers and their patients are inexperienced in the ethical issues accompanying whole genome and exome research; and where an historical unidirectional flow of samples and data out of Africa has created a sense of exploitation and distrust. In the current study, we analysed the implications of the anticipated surge of next generation sequencing data in Africa and the subsequent data sharing concepts on the protection of privacy of research subjects. We performed a retrospective analysis of the informed consent process for the continent and the rest-of-the-world and examined relevant legislation, both current and proposed. We investigated the following issues: (i) informed consent, including guidelines for performing culturally-sensitive next generation sequencing research in Africa and availability of suitable informed consent documents; (ii) data security and subject privacy whilst practicing data sharing; (iii) conveying the implications of such concepts to research participants in resource limited settings.
We conclude that, in order to meet the unique requirements of performing next generation sequencing-related research in African populations, novel approaches to the informed consent process are required. This will help to avoid infringement of privacy of individual subjects as well as to ensure that informed consent adheres to acceptable data protection levels with regard to use and transfer of such information.
African populations; Ethical; legal; and societal issues; Next generation sequencing; Whole genome and whole exome sequencing
Virtue ethics, emphasising techniques promoting an agent's character and instructing their conscience, has become a significant mode of discourse in modern medical ethics. Healthcare whistleblowers, whose complaints are reasonable, made in good faith, in the public interest, and not vexatious, we argue, are practising those obligations of professional conscience foundational to virtue based medical ethics. Yet, little extant virtue ethics scholarship seriously considers the theoretical foundations of healthcare whistleblowing.
The authors examine whether healthcare whistleblowing should be considered central to any medical ethics emphasising professional virtues and conscience. They consider possible causes for the paucity of professional or academic interest in this area and examine the counterinfluence of a continuing historical tradition of guild mentality professionalism that routinely places relationships with colleagues ahead of patient safety.
Finally, it is proposed that a virtue based ethos of medical professionalism, exhibiting transparency and sincerity with regard to achieving uniform quality and safety of health care, may be facilitated by introducing a technological imperative using portable computing devices. Their use by trainees, focused on ethical competence, provides the practical face of virtue ethics in medical education and practice. Indeed, it assists in transforming the professional conscience of whistleblowing into a practical, virtue based culture of self reporting and personal development.
When a pregnant woman makes a decision or acts in a manner that may be detrimental to the health and well-being of her fetus, her physician may be faced with an ethical dilemma. Is the physician's primary duty to respect the woman's autonomy, or to promote behaviour that may be in the best interest of the fetus? The controversial concept of "fetal rights" or the "fetus as a patient" contributes to the notion that the pregnant woman and her fetus are potential adversaries. However, Canadian law has upheld women's right to life, liberty and security of the person and has not recognized fetal rights. If a woman is competent and refuses medical advice, her decision must be respected even if the physician believes that her fetus will suffer as a result. Coercion of the woman is not permissible no matter what appears to be in the best interest of the fetus.