Examining the duty of physician officials in the government [PODCAST]

“The duty of physician officials in the government exceeds that of other officials. As physicians, they have a unique moral obligation to do more than protect the constitution from enemies, foreign and domestic. They have a duty to be unambiguously truthful, to use their power to do good, and to avoid harm. If they fail in any of those regards, they must be held accountable by their peers, and by society. This is especially urgent when those who appointed them to these positions of authority fail to manifest in their actions the moral necessity of telling the truth, doing good, and avoiding harm. In that case, peer and public accountability are all that is left to uphold these essential ethical standards.

If this level of peer accountability seems extreme, imagine the consequences if the most powerful and public-facing physicians in the country continue to erode public trust in their own profession. Physicians have always held one another accountable to the highest ethical standards of medicine. The need is more urgent than ever. The potential for great human suffering demands that the unified voice of medicine muster its moral courage and act as though its life depends on it.”

Charles E. Binkley is a bioethicist and general surgeon.

He shares his story and discusses his KevinMD article, “The failure of the U.S. government’s physicians to do good, avoid harm, and tell the truth.”

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