WMA supports Physicians in Refusing Punishment Request

(24.08.2010) The World Medical Association supports physicians in Saudi Arabia in refusing to carry out a punishment as suggested by a court that would be a severe breach of medical ethics.

This follows the recent request to hospitals by a Saudi Arabian judge to damage a man’s spinal cord as a punishment for his attacking and paralyzing another man.

Dr. Dana Hanson, President of the WMA, said: “This is an appalling request and one which every physician must resist. As the WMA’s Declaration of Tokyo clearly states no physician should participate in the practice of torture or any other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading procedures, whatever the offence of which the victim of such procedures is suspected, accused or guilty of. The Declaration also includes a prohibition of participation in the planning or advising for such a procedure.

“Physicians must at all times preserve their ethical independence. The Declaration of Geneva states that, ‘The health of my patient will be my first consideration,’ and the International Code of Medical Ethics declares that, ‘A physician shall act only in the patient's interest when providing medical care which might have the effect of weakening the physical and mental condition of the patient.’

“This refers to all patients whatever their status”.