Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Learning In Practice

The ethics of medical education

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 05 August 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:332

Rapid Response:

Ethics within Medical Education

The plea by Jagsi and Lehmann regarding the need for ethics within
medical education is well timed. The ethics approval system in the UK has
recently been “revamped”. My recent experience involved a six-month
ordeal through the system following a seemingly innocuous study of ethics
to explore levels of knowledge in Paediatric Post Graduate Doctors. The
Local Ethics Committee Chairman decided that ethics approval was necessary
but this had to be submitted before a National Ethics Committee.
Following a lengthy and difficult electronic ethics submission, the
National Ethics Committee decided it was not necessary to obtain their
approval but required local hospital validation. The local hospital
committee deliberated and decided that it was not their responsibility but
that of the local audit committee, which finally accepted the proposal.

Did the authors consider “burden of time” on the part of busy
clinicians in whatever framework is suggested for the future.

Ethical approval is laudable. An ethics process that detracts
clinical teachers from their core responsibilities is damaging. The tail
may wag the dog especially when the research governance agenda remains
unclear to ethics committees, which predominantly do not incorporate
education experts.

Ref: (1) Jagsi R., Lehmann, L. Ethics of Medical Education BMJ
2004:329:322-333 (August)

Ref: (2) Jones A., Bamford B. The other face of research governance
BMJ 280.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

09 September 2004
Dilip Nathan
Consultant Paediatrician
Radford Health Centre NG5 5GH