The medical profession has always been held in the highest esteem by the public, who look to their doctors for the relief of suffering and ailments. In modern medical practice, patients and society at large expect doctors to be responsible both to individual patients' needs as well as to the needs of the larger community. Much trust is therefore endowed upon doctors to do their best by both. This trust is contingent on the profession maintaining the highest standards of professional practice and conduct.
While the profession must adhere to the laws governing society and its practice, it must also be self-regulating, as society at large does not have the necessary knowledge or the experience of medical practice to make determinations on professional matters. This self-regulation must be vigorously and fairly pursued so that the profession continues to enjoy the trust of society. Failure to do so could result in civil authorities taking action to reduce or even remove the profession's right of self-regulation and may lead to the imposition of external regulation on the profession.
The Singapore Medical Council's jurisdiction in relation to professional conduct over persons registered under the current Medical Registration Act is governed by the Act and the Medical Registration Regulations. The SMC has the role of promulgating the Ethical Code and Ethical Guidelines on acceptable professional practice and behaviour and has the responsibility to exercise its duty to discipline members of the profession who fail to uphold the high standards demanded by society.
This Ethical Code represents the fundamental tenets of conduct and behaviour expected of doctors practising in Singapore. The Ethical Guidelines elaborate on the application of the Code and are intended as a guide to all practitioners as to what SMC regards as the minimum standards required of all practitioners in discharge of their professional duties and responsibilities in the context of practice in Singapore.
It is the view of the SMC that serious disregard or persistent failure to meet these standards can potentially lead to harm to patients or bring disrepute to the profession and consequently may lead to disciplinary proceedings.
Society is continually changing in its norms and expectations. Technological changes advance at a rapid rate. The SMC acknowledges that no set of published guidelines can be either exhaustive or final. The SMC believes, however, that the principles enunciated can be applied to every change or advance and practitioners are exhorted to keep these principles firmly in mind when applying new technologies and adapting to technological advances.
Click here to download SMC's Ethical Code and Ethical Guidelines.