Dual-Loyalty and Human Rights in Health Professional Practice: Proposed Guidelines and Institutional Mechanisms

  • International Dual-Loyalty Working Group
Part of the International Library of Ethics, Law, and the New book series (LIME, volume 41)

The problem of dual-loyalty-simultaneous obligations, express or implied, to a patient and to a third party, often the state-continues to challenge health professionals. Health professional ethics have long stressed the need for loyalty to people in their care. In the modern world, however, health professionals are increasingly asked to weigh their devotion to patients against service to the objectives of government or other third parties. Dual-loyalty poses particular challenges for health professionals throughout the world when the subordination of the patient’s interests to state or other purposes risks violating the patient’s human rights. Efforts to bolster ethical codes to address these challenges have only marginally succeeded, as will be discussed in Chapter 2 (not herein included). The goals of this project are to identify the dimensions of dual-loyalty and to propose guidelines and mechanisms for the prevention of complicity by health professionals in human rights violations. This introductory chapter defines what dual-loyalty is, explains how professional ethics and human rights relate in solving dual-loyalty problems, and explores the obligations of health professionals to respect human rights. These introductory comments provide the background for a description of the motivation for and scope of this project.


Health Professional Medical Ethic Racial Discrimination Ethical Code World Medical Association 
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© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

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  • International Dual-Loyalty Working Group

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