Code of medical ethics

Clear-cut rules are enshrined in the draft Medical Practice Code that the Health and Welfare Ministry sent to all Greek doctors’ associations last week for comment. The draft code reminds doctors that they exercise a profession, tacitly prohibits bribery, safeguards confidentiality, sets conditions on artificial insemination, describes euthanasia as «unacceptable,» and leaves the decision on terminating pregnancies on doctors’ consciences. Code revision has been a longstanding demand by doctors, who have until November 15 to submit their comments so that a presidential decree can be formulated. Serious objections are not expected from doctors’ associations, according to Manolis Kalokairinos, president of the Panhellenic Medical Association. «It was time someone had the courage to start the dialogue,» Kalokairinos told Kathimerini. The new code includes the following provisions: * The practice of medicine is a profession that aims at maintaining and improving the physical, intellectual and mental health of humans and relieving their pain; * Doctors may not refuse to offer their services for reasons unrelated to professional competence, unless there is a special reason; * Doctors who work in the public sector and are under no restrictions entailed by that, may freely offer their medical services in private surgeries that have been declared to the Medical Association; * A doctor may not maintain or participate in more than one private surgery; * Doctors who offer services to the public sector or to a social insurance foundation may not charge the patient any financial fee beyond that of the monthly or other fee as stipulated by law in their contract; * The truth may be concealed from a patient in a case where the doctor believes that revealing it would cause extremely serious and irreparable damage to the patient; * Doctors must keep personal information absolutely confidential. This obligation does not cease with the death of the patient; * Doctor must inform patients about the positive and negative effects of medically assisted reproduction and encourage its use in specific cases where the patient is medically incapable of producing a child by natural means. Doctor must not engage in any enterprise or endeavor to industrialize this procedure, or use genetic technology for political or military purposes; * Cloning is definitely not acceptable as a method of human reproduction; and * Doctors may invoke rules and moral principles of their conscience to refuse to implement or collaborate in the procedure of artificial termination of pregnancy, unless there is a risk that the pregnant woman may suffer irreversible harm.