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Civility and scientific excellence: two dimensions of medical professionalism
  1. Sabine Salloch
  1. Institute for Ethics, History and Philosophy of Medicine, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany
  1. Correspondence to Professor Sabine Salloch, Institute for Ethics, History and Philosophy of Medicine, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany; salloch.sabine{at}

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McCullough et al have taken up an important issue that is highly interesting from a theoretical as well as from a practical standpoint in drawing attention to (in)civility as a matter of professional ethics: As a ‘low intensity deviant behaviour’1 p3 incivility seems to widely escape the scope of professional norms as well as legal regulation and jurisdiction. At the same time, empirical evidence suggests that incivility occurs frequently in healthcare and might have an enormous negative impact on the quality of patient care. Against this background medical ethics should no longer hesitate conducting profound conceptual and empirical research on (in)civility as an ethical issue.

The authors’ analysis sheds light on the different dimensions of practical rationality as involved clinical reasoning and behaviour. Whereas I agree with their idea of civility being a ‘professional virtue with cognitive, behavioural and social components’1 p2 I cannot fully support their claim of the cognitive component lasting on a ‘commitment to excellence in scientific and clinical reasoning’ (ibid.). Instead I would like to argue that professionalism comprises both, civility as …

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  • Contributors SS is the sole author.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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