n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - Mediese etiek en chirurgie

Volume 42, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0041-4751


This article deals with current-day ethical challenges to the practice of surgery. The author starts by comparing the Hippocratic tradition of paternalistic medicine to the current day situation in which the emphasis on respect for autonomy and justice have superseded the Hippocratic exclusive emphasis on beneficence and non-maleficence as the basic principles of medical ethics. He identifies five developments that have directly influenced and facilitated this phenomenon. Hereafter he identifies six challenges to surgical practice, viz. the importance of trust between surgeon and patient, the issue of morally justified surgical procedures, the ethical training of surgeons, patient advocacy, particularly in view of managed care, unwarranted biases in surgical practice, and the importance of patient centred outcomes research. The author concludes by showing the relevance of an ethics of responsibility for surgical practice.

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