Psychiatric ethics codes concepts and clinical practice skills

K. W. M. Fulford and Sidney Bloch Codes

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Ethical problems pervade every facet of clinical practice and research in psychiatry. Yet with occasional exceptions, (!2, and 3 psychiatric ethics have generally been treated as an addendum to mainstream bioethics. The assumption has been that ethical 'tools' developed to deal with issues like assisted reproduction or transplant surgery can be used essentially unmodified in psychiatry.(4) These tools, as we shall see, are certainly helpful in psychiatry. But the hand-me-down approach has meant that salient features of psychiatric ethics have been widely misunderstood or even neglected altogether. We will focus on three such features: the role of ethical codes in providing a framework for good practice, the ethical significance of psychiatric diagnostic concepts, and the place of ethical reasoning as a core practice skill in psychiatry.

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