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Medical practitioners form an essential part of any society, and every one of us relies on them from time to time. Their duties are all-pervasive in our lives, and therefore strict ethical standards are expected of them. In this paper we shall examine the ethical issues that medical professionals commonly face, and that affect the trust that we, the patients, have in them. While we will attempt to adopt a local context to our paper, our scope will not be restricted as such and we will freely discuss the impact of such issues worldwide.

The doctor-patient relationship is a sacred one, and we have selected four ethical grey areas that we feel have the largest bearing on this relationship. They are:

1.Medical Confidentiality
2.Medical Futility
3.Fitness to Practise, and
4.Promotion of Medicine to Patients
In this paper, we shall examine each of these issues, and discuss the ethical dilemmas which may be faced, while finally also suggesting areas for improvement.


Medical confidentiality is a concept deeply entrenched in the medical profession, and for good reason too. Often patients are only willing to divulge full information if they are guaranteed full confidentiality; any breach of this trust would result in a step backward for the profession as a whole.

Even with the Ethical Code in place, doctors still find themselves placed in situations where the right action is not clear-cut. The code is certain to ensure that while in most cases medical information must be kept strictly confidential, in some situations the code “may be overridden by legislation,
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