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Internists remind physicians about universal ethical principles

PHILADELPHIA, February 28, 2011 "Honesty is a core professional obligation and lying, even for a patient, is a breach of that obligation," J. Fred Ralston Jr., MD, FACP, president of the American College of Physicians (ACP) reminded all physicians, including the organization's 130,000 internal medicine physician and medical student members today.

ACP's statement was issued amid reported confusion surrounding "sick notes" issued without a medical evaluation to some protesters absent from work to attend rallies at the state capitol in Madison, Wis.

"This has most recently been discussed in Wisconsin, but it's not a state-based issue, like a state law," said Steven B. Pearson, MD, FACP, governor of the Wisconsin Chapter of ACP. "Rather it is a universal ethics principle on which ethics policy is based."

"Society empowers and trusts physicians to serve the interests of individual patients," Ralston said. "But physician authority and privileges also come with responsibilities to the community, even when individual patients want otherwise."

The 'sick note' situation is only one example of an array of ethical issues addressed by ACP in its Ethics Manual. The organization also develops policies and case studies providing ethical guidance and recommendations to help internists and their patients with many situations.


Contact: David Kinsman
American College of Physicians

Page: 1

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