REVIEW – August 2013

Documents and trends that have formed medical ethics

Authors: Ants Anderson

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The main issue of the article is a commented enumeration of the movements and forces that have influenced the development of medical ethics throughout history: the sickness concept per se, the Hippocratic Oath, Christianity, guild interests, state policy, World Medical Association, the patients’ rights movement and the European Council. e complex meaning (‘illness’ and ‘disease’) and the ethical content of the ‘sickness’ concept is considered in greater detail. Some opinions on the disputable role and impact of the Hippocratic Oath are presented. Reduction in medical paternalism and a relativization of the duty to protect life, as consequences of the patients’ rights movement, are noted.  e article is concluded with a reminder of the continuing need for ethical rules for protection of life in medical action.