International Health Care Ethics



By Summer Volkmer ’11 – June 2010

Recently, the psychological community has faced significant questions—provoked by reports that American psychologists were directly involved in the mistreatment of detainees in U.S. custody, captured in counter-terrorism efforts since September 11th—about the scope of health professionals’ obligation to “do no harm.”

This paper reviews the international ethics codes for health professionals, particularly in times of domestic insecurity. These codes make clear that members of the healing professions have a special duty to refrain from complicity or participation in harm and have a duty to report violations, in some circumstances.

However, these international ethical codes depend on domestic organizations for their enforcement. Whether and how psychological organizations and licensing boards in the United States will seek to enforce these international ethical standards against members alleged to have participated in interrogations of detainees remains an open question.

Please consult the paper’s bibliography for further information on this topic.

Download full paper.