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Supporting whistleblowers in academic medicine: training and respecting the courage of professional conscience


Conflicts between the ethical values of an organisation and the ethical values of the employees of that organisation can often lead to conflict. When the ethical values of the employee are considerably higher than those of the organisation the potential for catastrophic results is enormous. In recent years several high profile cases have exposed organisations with ethical weaknesses. Academic medical institutions have exhibited such weaknesses and when exposed their employees have almost invariably been vindicated by objective inquiry. The mechanisms that work to produce such low ethical standards in what should be exemplary organisations are well documented and have been highlighted recently. The contribution of elements of medical training in eroding ethical standards of medical students have also been emphasised recently and strategies proposed to reduce or reverse this process. The ability to rapidly change the ethical and professional culture of graduate medical trainees may help to deal with some of the perceived problems of declining ethical standards in academic medicine.

  • whistleblowers
  • research ethics
  • academic medicine
  • Olivieri/Apotex affair
  • conflicts of interest

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