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Friday, January 22, 2016

Advancing Medical Professionalism in US Military Detainee Treatment

Leonard S. Rubenstein, Scott A. Allen, Phyllis A. Guze
Published: January 5, 2016
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001930

Summary Points
  • The United States Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) promulgated policies and requirements that required health professionals to participate in the mistreatment of counter-terrorism detainees through participation in such practices as abusive interrogation and force-feeding of detainees, in violation of ethical standards established by associations representing the health professions.
  • A report of the Defense Health Board to the Secretary of Defense on military medical ethics released in 2015 found that the Department of Defense “does not have an enterprise-wide, formal, integrated infrastructure to systematically build, support, sustain, and promote an evolving ethical culture within the military health care environment.”
  • The Board also found that ethical codes promulgated by the health professions, including the duty to avoid harm, provide a sound basis for military medical practice, even taking into account the unique challenges often faced by military health professionals in reconciling the military mission with patient needs.
  • The health professional community should urge the Secretary of Defense to adopt and implement the recommendations of the Defense Health Board, rescind directives authorizing participation of health professionals in interrogation and force-feeding because they are inconsistent with professional ethics, and provide ongoing advice and support for the reform process.