Nowe problemy etyki lekarskiej

Bolesław Górnicki

New Problems of Medical Ethics

By limiting his interests to problems traditionally discussed by ethics of Hippocrates a contemporary physician runs the risk of getting out of touch with social problems. This is particularly important at the present when medicine does not only aim to bring help to people in pain but serves also as an instrument of the amelioration and reorganization of social life. The increase of information accumulated by health sciences and the development of public health programs put the contemporary physician in a difficult position where he has to solve numerous problems by recourse to his conscience. Some of these problems constitute the principal subject matter of this article. They include: 1) medical experiments on human beings, 2) problems of organ transplants and clinical death, 3) euthanasia, 4) abortion, 5) demographic reproduction of the society, 6) enforced limitation of fertility on persons with high risk of producing deficient offspring, 7) genetic engineering, 8) enforced treatment of patients who constitute a social danger, 9) problems connected with models of elite and equalitarian treatment, 10) professional secrecy.

The variety of these problems and their complexity suggest that we should abandon all hope of having a formal system of medical ethics ever compiled. This may not excuse us for neglecting to try to give a more precise form to the rules, criteria and norms of medical ethics. But we should acknowledge the fact that certain problems, and by no means of little importance, will have to be solved by the doctor himself as he meets them and chooses the course of action that his conscience tells him to be right.