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What should I tell my students now the law contravenes medical ethics?

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 13 February 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g1503
  1. M Murat Civaner, associate professor, Department of Medical Ethics, School of Medicine, Uludag University, Bursa, Turkey
  1. mcivaner{at}

New Turkish legislation that restricts the emergency medical care that doctors can give and gives the state unjustified access to all patient data is incompatible with our professional code, says Murat Civaner

“I will respect the secrets that are confided in me, even after the patient has died.”1 “A physician shall not allow his/her judgment to be influenced by personal profit or unfair discrimination.”2 “A physician shall give emergency care when it is needed, regardless of his specialty or job.”3

These national and international codes enshrine ethical values that are fundamental to our profession. But some of my students think that doctors should sometimes discriminate among patients. These ideas relate to the students’ personal values or fears about state security, for instance. I remind them of our rules and why they matter: the patient-physician relationship depends on trust. I also tell them about basic human rights, which everyone should respect.

The Turkish president has recently signed new legislation stating, “With the exception of health services in emergency situations delivered …

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