Intended for healthcare professionals

Editor's Choice

Rules of conscience

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 14 May 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b1972
  1. Fiona Godlee, editor, BMJ
  1. fgodlee{at}

    How often this week have we heard the phrase “but I was only following the rules” as details of MPs’ expense claims were splashed across the media? They may have been following the rules but we expected something better: that they would follow their consciences.

    Just obeying the rules has long been insufficient for doctors. The judges at Nuremberg made clear that obeying commands from superiors didn’t remove personal accountability. Doctors couldn’t deviate from their ethical obligations even if a country’s laws allowed or demanded otherwise. The World Medical Association is meeting as I write. Its most noteworthy contribution has been the drafting …

    View Full Text