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By Dr Derrick Aarons

A symbiotic relationship exists between good ethical conduct and the practice of medicine. Consequently, professional ethics constitutes principles that guide conduct and interaction between professionals and others with whom they came in contact during the course of their work. Observance of these principles are of paramount importance, as the principles obligate specific responsibilities to the patient, to the medical profession, to members of the health care industry, and the community and wider society at large.

Two core skills are central to medical ethics:

1. Being able to identify issues (awareness)

2. Being able to reason about these issues and come to a justifiable resolution as to what should be done (critical thinking skills).

Hence, medical ethics incorporates the do’s and don’ts of professional ethics, but goes further to incorporate value judgments, since good ethical decisions depend on a thoughtful consideration of the values, desires and goals of all persons involved in an issue.