I’m most impressed at the unabashed and vigorous plea for ‘medical professionalism’ when it comes to doctors and their relationships with pharmaceutical and other commercial companies in the US. It’s in this report, just out, from the Association of American Medical Colleges. It places the need for clear information about potential financial and other biases in doctors beside the expectations of professional behaviour and standards.
In the UK, medical professionalism has and is being eroded in all kinds of ways – rather than doctors being answerable to peers and patients, they have become answerable first to ‘management’ – and political priorities should never be clinical ones. There is also evidence that when doctors are judged by their peers they tend to be judged more harshly than if they were judged by laypeople, for example in fitness to practice cases. I can’t help but think that medical professionalism is seen as a paternalistic relic here in the UK – when, really, it should be the best motivation for good patient care.