The Ethics Committee of a Psychiatric College: Its Procedures and Themes
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. 1997 Feb; 31(1): 76-82.
OBJECTIVE: Ethics committees (ECs) of medical colleges and other medical associations have become part of their professional experience only in recent years. This is probably attributable to such factors as greater professional accountability and informed consumerism. Relatively little is known about the procedures and agendas of such committees. The aim of the present study was to examine the EC of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, with respect to its practices, in order to learn how a medical college grapples with ethical concerns. METHODS: Two members of the College's EC, including its foundation chairman, assembled relevant documents, and subjected them to detailed scrutiny. Consensus was used, preceded by independent attempts at categorising these issues covering the period from the EC's inception in 1978 to June, 1995. RESULTS: Three hundred and sixty-seven issues were dealt with by the EC over a 17 year period, covering clinical practice, financial aspects, forensic psychiatry, teaching and research, liaison with other organisations and preparation of guidelines and a code of ethics. CONCLUSIONS: An EC can play a vital role in advising its parent body and members in the ethics of day-to-day professional life as well as formulating (and revising) a code of ethics and supplementary ethical guidelines.
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