Challenging questions and ethical obligations: the ethics of everyday practice > 21 January 2015

Jonathon Tomlinson


The attitudes and behaviour of medical students and professionals towards patients, society and each other are core features of professionalism. These are under increasing public scrutiny and open to challenge and debate outside the profession as a result of increasing healthcare consumerism, media sensationalism and the boundary transgressing and disseminating effects of social media. Healthcare consumerism encourages patients to publicly rate professionals’ attitudes and behaviour; media sensationalism seeks to make examples of doctors who exemplify unprofessional behaviour; and professional use of social media places attitudes and behaviour in the public domain. Professional conversations, until recently were restricted to what was mostly the health care professionals’ domain like the doctors’ mess, operating theatre and hospital corridors. Patient and public use of social media allow examples to be rapidly disseminated and gives them a voice to challenge health professionals and present their own perspectives. Public scrutiny of poor care, for example at Mid Staffs hospital, has highlighted the harms that can come to patients when they are dehumanised and treated without care and compassion. This paper uses the example of obesity and overweight patients to explore power, prejudice and professionalism in medical education and critically appraises proposed interventions within medical education.



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