Should doctors feel able to practise according to their personal views and beliefs? — Yes

Brian V Conway
Med J Aust 2011; 195 (9): . || doi: 10.5694/mja11.11234
Published online: 7 November 2011

YES: Paediatrician Brian Conway believes freedom to practise in accordance with conscience enables healthy diversity and is the ultimate safeguard for patients

The child lies in the hospital, defeated by cancer and on the edge of death. Clinicians advise that there is nothing more to do beyond keeping her comfortable. The parents disagree. Wanting absolutely everything done, they secure a court order to enforce their wishes. With every cardiac arrest, the treating team reluctantly sets to work. She has already arrested nearly 10 times through the day and staff dread the next code.

  • Burnside Hospital, Adelaide, SA.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

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  • 2. Savulescu J. Conscientious objection in medicine. BMJ 2006; 332: 294-297.
  • 3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. US Public Health Service syphilis study at Tuskegee: the Tuskegee timeline. (accessed Sep 2011).
  • 4. Cannold L. Consequences for patients of health care professionals’ conscientious actions: the ban on abortions in South Australia. J Med Ethics 1994; 20: 80-86.
  • 5. First lessons from the “Bristol case”. Lancet 1998; 351: 1669.


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