Ministry Panel OKs Code of Ethics for Doctors

A draft law of the country’s first physicians’ code of ethics was passed by an inter-ministerial commission at the Ministry of Health last week, bringing it one step closer to being approved by the Council of Ministers, a health official said Tuesday.

“The draft law will be passed as soon as possible by the Council of Ministers,” said National AIDS Authority Deputy Director Ly Po, a member of the commission.

The code’s 110 articles aim to teach doctors and other health care professionals about their du­ty to treat patients without intimidation, threat or socio-economic discrimination, Ly Po said. The document, written by officials from the National Medical Council of Cam­bo­dia, also will warn patients of potential abuses by un­professional health providers, he said.

“Patients are humans. Regard­less of whether [patients] are poor or rich, they have the right to live and to get medical services when they are sick,” Ly Po said.

Because the Khmer Rouge killed many of the country’s health care professionals, there are now some doctors practicing without proper knowledge of certain medical procedures or ethics, he said.

Doctors in both private and pub­lic hospitals and clinics have been known to have sex with pa­tients and to publicize confidential information, Ly Po said.

“Some doctors place less value on poor patients and provide them with careless treatment,” Ly Po said. Certain doctors also are culp­able of charging severely ill patients higher fees than their less sick counterparts, he said.

Sav Sottonn, president of the Medical Association of Cambo­dia, said last August that 80 percent of the country’s clinics were not authorized by the Ministry of Health, but they could not be closed because there was not the authority to find them.

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