code of ethics
|Wednesday, 21 March 2007|
The Code of Ethics of the Irish Institute of Medical Herbalists(IIMH) demonstrates the high ethical and professional standards required by medical herbalists, and is the document which binds all Full Members in their daily practice.
Code of Ethics
MEMBERS SHALL AT ALL TIMES CONDUCT THEMSELVES IN AN HONOURABLE MANNER IN THEIR RELATIONS WITH THEIR PATIENTS, THE PUBLIC, AND WITH OTHER MEMBERS OF THE INSTITUTE.
A. Members' Obligations to their Patients Practitioner – Client Relationship
The relationship between a medical herbalist and his or her patient is that of a professional with a client. The patient puts complete trust in the practitioner's integrity and it is the duty of Members not to abuse this trust in any way. Proper moral conduct must always be paramount in Members' relationships with patients. Members must act with consideration concerning fees and justification for treatment. Members must strive to adopt a non-judgemental attitude towards patients. Where a Member considers that treatment is beyond his or her capacity or skill, the patient with his or her consent, should be referred to another Member or appropriate Health Care Practitioner. Members must take care when explaining the procedures and treatment which they propose to administer, and should recognise the patient's right to refuse treatment or ignore advice. It is unacceptable to solicit a patient by any means to accept treatment when he or she has not specifically requested it. Children and MinorsMembers shall take particular care in treating children and minors. The consent of a parent or legal guardian should be obtained in respect of any person under 16 years of age, or whatever age is specified in law at the time of treatment. Law and LiabilityMembers shall be responsible for being aware of their position and liability in law. Delegation of Professional DutiesMembers must take care to see that their practices are managed with due diligence, in particular, delegation of professional duties should be made only in favour of those qualified to accept them. Locum ArrangementsIt is the duty of the Member if he or she is away from the practice for any length of time to ensure that adequate arrangements are made to enable patients to receive treatment. ConfidentialityMembers have an implicit duty, within the law, to keep all information concerning, and views formed about, patients entirely confidential between the Member and the patient concerned. This same level of confidence must be maintained by assistants and receptionists when these are employed. Even the fact of a patient's attendance at a Member's practice should be considered confidential, and should not be disclosed to a third party without the patient's consent. Members are warned not to assume details of a wife's or husband's case should be freely discussed with the other. The above ruling applies to all parties including next of kin and Members should never allow a third person to be present unless with the express consent of the patient. Disclosure of any confidential information to a third person is only in order when all the following requirements are met:-i) Disclosure is in the patient's interests.ii) It is done with the patient's knowledge and consent except where the patient is not in a condition to give this and a third person is in a position to be responsible for patient's interests.iii) There is a real need for such information to be imparted, such as when a Member considers a case should be referred to a colleague. The only exceptions to this principle of confidentiality are:-i) When the law requires the information to be divulged (see below, Member's Obligations to the Public).ii) When for reasons relating to the condition or treatment of a patient it is undesirable to seek his or her consent, but it is in the patient's own interest that confidentiality should be broken.iii) When the member reasonably considers that his or her duty to society at large takes precedence.iv) When case histories are used for herbal training, research or publication. In these cases the patient's anonymity must be very strictly preserved. Members must ensure that they keep clear and comprehensive records of the treatment they administer to patients.
B. Member's Obligations to the Public
B1. Disclosure of Information
B2. Use of the Title 'Doctor'
C. Members' Obligations to other Practitioner
MEMBERS OF THE IIMH SHALL AT ALL TIMES ABIDE BY THE ADVERTISING CODES LAID DOWN BY THE COUNCIL OF THE ASSOCIATION.
The following principles will be applied by the Professional Ethics Committee of the IAMH in relation to advertisements by Members of the Association. The principles are explained and amplified in the Explanatory Guidelines. The Explanatory Guidelines will be adapted in the light of practical experience.
1. Advertising, both in form and content, shall be appropriate to the interests of patients.
2. Advertising, both in form and content, shall be appropriate to the standing of the profession of medical herbalism and to the standing of a profession generally.
3. Advertising shall not contain claims of superiority, specialism or curability and any claims made shall be capable of substantiation.
4. Advertising shall not denigrate other Members of the profession or other professions.
5. Advertising shall not be false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, self-laudatory, extravagant or sensational.
6. Advertising shall comply with legal requirements.
A. Interests of Patients
1. The prime task of a medical herbalist, as of any member of the medical and paramedical professions, is to relieve suffering. The interests of the patient, and of the prospective patient, are therefore paramount at all times in matters concerning advertising as in all other matters.
2. Advertisements shall recognise that many patients, particularly those who are anxious for themselves or for their dependents, or who are in pain, may bevulnerable to advertising encouraging them to seek treatment which, in theirparticular condition, may be inappropriate or unnecessary.
3. Advertising shall not play on patients' anxiety or create unjustified expectations as to the form or length of treatment or its prospects for relieving the condition concerned.
4. The relationship between practitioner and patient is one of trust and it is essential that advertising shall be of such nature that the trust of the patient is not abused and his or her lack of knowledge of either the condition or medical herbalism is not exploited.
B. Appropriate to the Profession
1. The public expect high standards of propriety, integrity and behaviour from the professions. Accordingly advertising shall give members of the public theinformation which they need for their own purposes whilst retaining their confidence in medical herbalism and in the herbal profession.
2. Advertising shall not be of a kind which could reasonably be regarded as likely to bring the profession into disrepute.
3. Practices should be identified by professional name plates or signs of a size, colour and form appropriate to the nature of the area and to the location of the practice and bearing the names and qualifications of the medical herbalists practising at the premises. The names should be of those Members regularly in attendance; details of former practitioners should be removed within a reasonable period of time.
4. Non-herbal qualifications and titles may be shown in connection with a Member's practice such as degrees from bona-fide academic institutions, statutory designations or medical or para-medical qualifications awarded by established and generally recognised professional bodies of reputation and standing. The title 'Doctor', or its abbreviation, may not be used in any connection with the Member's practice unless the holder is a medical practitioner or holds a doctorate from a recognised University or other recognised teaching establishment and it is use in a form and manner which does not reasonably lead patients to believe that the holder is a Doctor of Medicine.
5. Where fees are quoted in an advertisement the fees charged for both the initial consultation, subsequent treatment sessions and likely prescription costs shall be stated. A clear indication of exactly what is included within the fees quoted shall also be given (eg whether prescriptions, if appropriate, are included within the initial consultation fee). If VAT is payable this should be stated and the fee quoted should be inclusive of VAT. Any arrangements for the discounting of fees shall be limited to specific groups or classes of patients and not be related to the treatment of particular conditions or be offered in the form of vouchers, incentives or similar schemes.
6. Advertising through unsolicited canvassing, by door to door or postal distribution, telephone or personal visits is prohibited.
7. Essential practice information, consisting of names and qualifications, address and telephone numbers, hours of business and arrangements for emergency cover and special facilities such as car parking and creches, and information about herbal medicine itself may be distributed to medical and bona-fide paramedical practitioners, dispensing chemists, health food shops, health centres and non-commercial points of contact such as libraries and information centres. Members may also circulate information about herbalism and their practice to those holding formal appointments as medical or personnel officers of commercial concerns in reasonable geographical proximity to the Member's practice.
8. Members are responsible for ensuring that their advertisements appear insurroundings which are appropriate to professional advertisements.
9. Where advertising takes place in joint advertisements with practitioners of other therapies, Members shall take reasonable steps to ensure that those other practitioners are members of recognised professional bodies whose standards ofpractice and behaviour are equivalent to those of the Association and that the professional advertisements are clearly separated from advertisements forcommercial or leisure activities.
10. Any member who is in doubt as to the appropriateness or otherwise of his/her advertising, must consult with the Council of the IIMH for clarification.
1. Claims of superiority in advertisements are inappropriate.
2. Advertising which expressly or implicitly claims to cure conditions, as distinct from relieving symptoms, is prohibited.
3. The use of the term Consulting Medical Herbalist is forbidden unless so approved by Council.
1. The interests of the patient and of the profession require that any denigration of a professional colleague, or member of another medical or para-medical profession,whether directly or by implication, is prohibited.
E. Compliance with Other Requirements
1. The attention of Members is drawn to current Codes of Advertising Practice within Ireland.
F. Broadcasts, Lectures, Articles etc.
Members are advised to consult the Secretary of the Association before participating in any form of publicity in the press, or on television or radio because:
1. There is a risk that such participation might constitute advertising.
2. There may be difficulties which can be avoided only by means of expert advice. When asked for comment by a newspaper, Members should realise that they have little or no control over the published form and content, nor is there any certainty that they will be quoted in full, or in the context they intend. Similar dangers exist in edited television or radio programmes.
3. If not properly informed on the subject matter, a contributor could be responsible for the publication of incorrect information and thus be the cause of misleading information reaching the public. The Council and every Member must take all steps to ensure that publicity originating from them is seemly and proper, and does not in any way damage the public image of the profession or the Institute's interests.
G. Informational Leaflets, Literature etc.
G1. The circulation of literature intended to educate and inform the public about the work of members of the Irish Institute of Medical Herbalists, the scope of his or her services etc., is perfectly acceptable.
The following rules apply:-
1. Any reference to an individual Member must be confined to his or her name, designatory letters, address and telephone number.
2. The literature offered should be of a strictly professional style or format.
3. The literature should be distributed to members of the public only at their express wish, eg. leaflets may be left in the reception area of the practice or posted at the request of an interested individual. In addition, informational literature may be distributed at appropriate exhibitions, seminars etc, in which a Member is participating.
G2. Members may publish books, pamphlets and articles of an informative nature about herbalism and other subjects relevant to it. Such publications must however be of scientific or educational value, and must avoid matters that might be considered to be in the nature of excessive personal advertising. The Council considers that proper consultation over publicity of any sort is of paramount importance. This will not only help to avoid the pitfalls and difficulties outlined above, but will certainly be of great assistance to the Member involved in publicity and make it easier to deal successfully with it.Advertising and relations with the media are subjects of continuous review and discussion, not only among medical herbalists but all the healing professions. It is therefore not possible to outline all the situations and eventualities that may arise. A member in doubt as to any of the above matters should clarify his or her position in advance with the Council.
H. Commercial Activity
Members shall not use their membership qualification in the commercialization of any product or remedy or in connection with any retail or commercial establishment.
MEMBERS SHALL COMPLY AT ALL TIMES WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE CODES OF PRACTICE.
Any member who fails to meet the requirements of the Code of Practice may be held to be in breach of the Code of Ethics and may be subject to disciplinary measures on the grounds of professional misconduct (see Rule Six, Section B2).
MEMBERS SHALL NOT GIVE FORMAL COURSES OF INSTRUCTION IN THE PRACTICE OF HERBAL MEDICINE WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE COUNCIL OF THE ASSOCIATION.
A. Lecturing to medical and paramedical groups and the public, in order that they may better understand the work of the qualified medical herbalist, the scope of his or her services and overall role is perfectly acceptable. The permitted scope of such lecturing is largely a matter of common sense in interpreting these guidelines. However, such lectures should be strictly informational and should not be promoted or constructed as being a 'training' in the theories or techniques of herbal medicine. It is acceptable to inform the public about the home-use of herbal remedies.
B. The training of an individual or individuals by a Member in the techniques of medical herbalism without the express consent of the Council of the Association is strictly forbidden. The only exceptions to this rule are:-
1. Where the training is done by a Member under the auspices of a teachingestablishment approved by the Council of the Association.
2. Where the Member is training other fully qualified practitioners of herbal medicine and:-the contents of the course have been vetted and approved by the Council of the Association, and completion of the course does not lead to any 'qualifications', degrees', 'certificates' etc., apart from certificates of attendance, except where these have been approved by Council of the Association. In this section the word 'training' includes any lectures, demonstrations or study material given to individuals with the implication that the satisfactory completion of said work will enable them to refer to themselves as 'Medical Herbalists' or lead them to believe that they will be qualified to practise herbal medicine on the general public.
C. The above rules do not preclude the participation of students of medical herbalism teaching establishments approved by the Council as observers, and in so far as they are qualified, as assistants in a Member's practice. Whenever herbal students are permitted to participate in the work of a Member, the Member must ensure that:-
1. The teaching establishment where the individual studies has been consulted and permission obtained.
2. Where case taking is observed or confidential information is discussed, theconsent of the patient is obtained before allowing the student access to this.
IT IS REQUIRED THAT MEMBERS APPLY THE FOREGOING TO ALL THEIR PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES.
A. Membership of other Professional Organisations
Members of the Institute may not belong to other Irish organisations of Western Herbal Medicine, whose ethical and training standards may differ from those of the IIMH.
B. Members of the IIMH Register Practising with Non-Members
Any IIMH Member who has a non-member practising with him or her, or allows a non-member to practise at the same premises is warned of the risk of misleading patients directly, indirectly or by default, so as to believe that such an individual giving treatment is a Member of the IIMH. Furthermore, the fact that such non-member(s) are practising with him or her, be they medical herbalists or members of other professions, does not in any way alter the application of this Code of Ethics to the activities of the Member concerned.
INFRINGEMENT OF THE ETHICAL CODE RENDERS IIMH MEMBERS LIABLE TO DISCIPLINARY ACTION WITH SUBSEQUENT LOSS OF PRIVILEGES AND BENEFITS OF THE INSTITUTE.
A1. Examination of Complaints Members may be assured that all allegations made against them by individuals, whether patients or other members, will be carefully examined by the Ethics Committee under the procedure outlined below. Only following such an examination might a further hearing take place under the procedure laid down in the Disciplinary Procedures, at which it is possible, inter alia for a member to be expelled. The Ethics Committee acts impartially and its decisions depend solely on the facts and circumstances of each case.
A2. Complaints Procedure Complaints against a Member are always investigated by the Council, provided such complaints are put in writing. The procedure is then that the Member is informed in writing of the complaint. The complainant's letter is acknowledged, and in all cases a copy of their letter is sent to the member concerned. A request for an explanation is made to the Member asking for a detailed explanation of their side of the matter, supported by documentary evidence where appropriate. A complaint against a Member can only be upheld if the Member is clearly shown to be in breach of the Ethical Code, and in all other matters it is up to the complainant, if still aggrieved, to seek redress through a Civil Action. See Appendix Two - Disciplinary Procedure.
A3. Guidance If any Member requires advice on a Professional or Ethical problem, he or she may consult the Secretary of the Institute, who will refer him or her to the appropriate person or committee for advice. If the Council considers that giving advice may conflict with its judicial functions under the Constitution, it may refer him or her to an independent adviser.
A4. Convictions Members should be aware that the Ethics Committee is obliged to accept the findings of a Court of Law, and is not able to re-open the investigation of facts which led to a conviction. The Ethics Committee will consider only the seriousness of the conviction and any surrounding circumstances in mitigation. Members should therefore treat with caution any encouragement to plead guilty to an offence and should take legal advice where possible.
B Proscribed Conduct
B1. Interpretation It is reiterated that the interpretation of 'Proscribed Conduct' which is provided in this Code of Ethics for the purposes of the disciplinary procedures as laid down in the Constitution, is not exhaustive and is intended as guidance only.