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December 1991

What Should House Officers Know About Medical Ethics?

Author Affiliations

Lubbock, Tex

Arch Intern Med. 1991;151(12):2473. doi:10.1001/archinte.1991.00400120105021

To the Editor.—  Sulmasy and colleagues1 report that the use of their instrument tests knowledge of ethics. Instead, the instrument tests knowledge of laws that apply to sensitive ethical areas, definitions of ethical jargon, and recognition of key facts in legal cases of ethical interest. These areas cannot be considered to be the subject matter of medical ethics, although such facts are usually learned in the course of study.Students of medical ethics should learn the fundamental principles of ethics, as well as the particular principles relevant to patient care. They should learn how to analyze cases so as to reveal the underlying conflicts and identify them as legal, ethical, psychosocial, or otherwise. They should be able to apply principles of ethical decision making in appropriate cases to decide on the best course of action. The analyses must be sound and based on good reasons.The "product" of an

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