To incorporate medical ethics into clinical practice, it must first be understood and valued by health care professionals. The recognition of this principle led to an expanding and continuing educational effort by the ethics committee of the Vancouver General Hospital. This paper reviews this venture, including some pitfalls and failures, as well as successes. Although we began with consultants, it quickly became apparent that education in medical ethics must reach all health care professionals—and medical students as well. Our greatest successes came in the formative years of a medical career (ie, in medical school and residency training programmes), but other efforts were not wasted, particularly among nurses and other health care professionals.
Although this is a personal review of the experience in one institution, the lessons learnt in Vancouver are applicable to the further development of medical ethics in the UK.
- Medical ethics
- ethics committees
- continuing education
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Martin Tweeddale, MBBS, PhD, FRCPC, FRCP, is Chairman of the Clinical Practice Ethics Committee, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust and Clinical Director, Department of Intensive Care Medicine, Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth.