World Medical Association and copyright

Dec 05, 2012

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There is an interesting article from Randall and Downie in Clinical Medicine (December 2012— I cannot see it online yet). The issue is about consent for transplantation, and my interest and knowledge is as a lay person, rather than an expert in this area. The gist of  the article is that statements about ‘donation’ made by the BMA, NICE and the Welsh Government are ethically flawed, and coercive. The authors argue that it puts doctors in the position of not acting in their own patient’s best interests (vis a vis the interests of others in the population). This is of course an  issue that has been around for a long time as medicine has become more and more a business and corporatised. What duties do you have to the patient in front of you; and what about the patient who didn’t get to see you. In the UK, are NHS doctors merely agents of the state?

The reference to the following statement was to the World Medical Association site: “THE HEALTH OF MY PATIENT will be my first consideration”. Well, debate  please. But what amazed me was the little copyright symbol at the bottom of the WMA site. Here is an organisation promulgating a set of ethical precepts for doctors to agree to follow and yet the very statements are wrapped in a type of legality that is the very antithesis of what medicine should me. Why not one of the creative commons licenses? If I reproduce this document, do I have to apply for permission first rather that just cite its source. Bizarre.

Post by Jonathan Rees

Clinical academic and skin watcher at the University of Edinburgh

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