I submit, it is my hypothesis, that medicine is devolving from a profession with firm standards of excellence and ethics, into a technocracy–still possessing excellence–but with a very fluid concept of ethics. Case in point: A law that would require “good moral character” as a matter of licensing is being resisted in Massachusetts. From the story:
Of the proposed regulations, the Massachusetts Medical Society objects to an expansion of the listed grounds for disciplinary action, including a provision that defines “lack of good moral character” based on behavior within or outside of medical practice.
“Board disciplinary action should be based upon concerns relevant to the practice of medicine,” said Auerbach.
Audesse said state law makes moral character a requirement for licensure.
“This is not a new requirement,” she said. “The privilege of holding a medical license requires not only technical skills, but high levels of ethics and morals.”
Of course, it would depend on how the term “good moral character” were applied. For example, if a doctor committed adultery, that should not be grounds for discipline. If he did it with a 16-year-old girl, which would not be a crime, it seems to me it should be. Similarly, if a doctor was convicted of shop lifting, it should be an issue of licensing just as it is for lawyers.
In any event, medicine is devolving from a learned profession into a learned technocracy (for wont of a better term) before our very eyes governed by the hallowed soundbite “choice.” No wonder so few doctors take the Hippocratic Oath anymore, and the oaths they do take are such thin pabulum. This trend isn’t good for doctors, patients, or society.