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Regulations on Criteria for Medical Ethics and their Implementation


Ministry of Health, People's Republic of China



The following regulations on medical ethics for healthcare providers were issued in December 1988 by the Ministry of Health of the People's Republic of China. The mention of socialist values in Article 1 may be compared to the statement regarding principles of communist morality found in the 1971 Soviet oath, which appears earlier in this section. It is notable, however, that these regulations do not mention responsibility to the State as did the Soviet oath. Also of note are the strong emphasis on education in medical ethics and the explicit application of the criteria to all healthcare workers.

Article 1. The purpose of the criteria is to strengthen the development of a society based on socialist values, to improve the quality of professional ethics of health-care workers and to promote health services.

Article 2. Medical ethics, which is also called professional ethics of health-care workers, guides the value system the health-care workers should have, covering all aspects from doctor–patient relationships to doctor–doctor relationships. The criteria for medical ethics form the code of conduct for health-care workers in their medical practice.

Article 3. The criteria for medical ethics include the following:

  1. Heal the wounded, rescue the dying, and practice socialist humanitarianism. Keep the interests of the patient in your mind and try every means possible to relieve patient suffering.
  2. Show respect to the patient's dignity and rights and treat all patients alike, whatever their nationality, race, sex, occupation, social position and economic status is.
  3. Services should be provided in a civil, dignified, amiable, sympathetic, kind-hearted and courteous way.
  4. Be honest in performing medical practice and conscious in observing medical discipline and law. Do not seek personal benefits through medical practice.
  5. Keep the secrets related to the patient's illness and practice protective health-care service. In no case is one allowed to reveal the patient's health secret or compromise privacy.
  6. Learn from other doctors and work together in cooperation. Handle professional relations between colleagues correctly.
  7. Be rigorous in learning and practicing medicine and work hard to improve knowledge, ability, skills and service.

Article 4. Education in medical ethics is mandated for the implementation of these regulations and for supporting medical-ethical attitudes. Therefore, good control and assessment of medical ethics has to be introduced.

Article 5. Education on medical ethics and the promotion of medical ethics must be a part of managing and evaluating hospitals. Good and poor performance of working groups have to be judged and assessed according to these standards.

Article 6. Education in medical ethics should be conducted positively and unremittingly through linking theories with practice aiming to achieve actual and concrete results. It should be the rule to educate new health-care workers in medical ethics before they start their service; in no case are they allowed to practice before they get such an education.

Article 7. Every hospital should work out rules and regulations for the evaluation of medical ethics and should have a particular department to carry out the evaluation, regularly and irregularly. The results of the evaluation should be kept in record files.

Article 8. The evaluation of medical ethics should include self-evaluation, social evaluation, department evaluation and higher-level evaluation. Social evaluation is of particular importance and the opinions of the patients and public should be considered and health service should be offered under the surveillance of the masses.

Article 9. The result of the evaluation should be considered as an important standard in employment, promotion, payment and the hiring of health-care workers.

Article 10. Practice the rewarding of the best and the punishment of the worst. Those who observe medical ethics criteria should be rewarded and those who fail to observe criteria of medical ethics should be criticized and punished accordingly.

Article 11. These criteria are suitable for all health-care workers, including doctors, nurses, technicians and healthcare administrators at all levels in all hospitals and clinics.

Article 12. Provincial health-care offices may work out detailed rules for the implementation of these criteria.

Article 13. These criteria become valid on the date they are issued.

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