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Medical practice: defendants and prisoners.
  1. P Bowden

    Abstract

    It is argued in this paper that a doctor cannot serve two masters. The work of the prison medical officer is examined and it is shown that his dual allegiance to the state and to those individuals who are under his care results in activities which largely favour the former. The World Health Organisation prescribes a system of health ethics which indicates, in qualitative terms, the responsibility of each state for health provisions. In contrast, the World Medical Association acts as both promulgator and guardian of a code of medical ethics which determines the responsibilities of the doctor to his patient. In the historical sense medical practitioners have always emphasized the sanctity of the relationship with their patients and the doctor's role as an expert witness is shown to have centered around this bond. The development of medical services in prisons has focused more on the partnership between doctor and institution. Imprisonment in itself could be seen as prejudicial to health as are disciplinary methods which are more obviously detrimental. The involvement of medical practitioners in such procedures is discussed in the light of their role as the prisoner's personal physician.

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