We define Ethics as a code of values. Ethics define a person’s character the way a person’s money reflects his financial health. In the medical field, ethical behaviour by physicians has been defined and codified since the time of Hippocrates. Most current ethical guidelines of contemporary medical organisations are versions of the same. It is our position that these ethical codes are flawed, unworkable, impractical and the major reason why medical practice is often so unethical.
In the field of bariatric surgery, OSSI aims to outline a broad set of positions on ethical issues that could be used by all concerned. It must be understood that there is a difference between what is ethical and what is legal.
Ethical is what one should or should not do. Legal is what one can or cannot do.
Society can punish an illegal act, but one cannot ordinarily punish an unethical one.
However, the reputation of a profession rests not on a giant, rare, illegal act of one person, but the minor, common, unethical acts of countless surgeons. It is important for OSSI and its members to be able to work comfortably within a highly ethical and yet practical code of values.
An organisation like OSSI is a voluntary association of professionals who have common goals of working in a healthy and progressive community. If any member works actively against the interests of the other members, it stands to reason for the organisation to discipline him or her. When this kind of activity (that is antithetical to the interests of the organisation or its members) is noted, it would be spineless of the organisation not to take cognisance and respond appropriately. In any serious situation like this, it is incumbent on us to ensure fairness to all the parties concerned.
At the risk of repetition, we state that OSSI cannot police any member, but if there is a clear violation of these codes that is reported to the Ethics Committee, a warning would be issued privately or publicly to the member (depending on the severity of the violation). A second violation would invite a one year disqualification from being invited as a Faculty in OSSI endorsed courses, and a third violation punished by suspension for three years. Such a suspension would be searchable on Google and seen in public domain in the OSSI website.
While ethics cannot be enforced, major violations (especially consciously made policy decisions) will be dealt with strongly by the organisation. In the absence of serious consequences, one unscrupulous member may imperil the reputation of all. It is our position that any person is free to practice his or her brand of values but spare the rest of us from being stigmatised by association. The organisation should be free to choose who it allows to remain in its protective fold. Failure to do so would be detrimental to OSSI’s interests.
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