Medical Ethics

Code of Ethics and Practice – The Society of Homeopaths

Code of Ethics and Practice

Revised August 2004

Introduction

This Code and its Appendices call for careful observation by all members of
the Society of Homeopaths who are qualified and insured to practise, and by
those students following Society recognised courses. Those studying homeopathy
are recommended to become familiar with it as part of their preparation for
practice.

It also serves to guide and inform anyone interested in homeopathic treatment,
demonstrating the standards that are established and maintained for professional
homeopaths.

Professional homeopaths have a duty to their patients, the public, their colleagues
and their profession.

An independent individual who is not bound by a professional code of conduct
may behave (subject to criminal and civil law) as he or she pleases when dealing
with the public, regardless of the interests of patients or the reputation of
the profession as a whole.

A professional homeopath has, by becoming a member of the Society, agreed to
be bound by and to observe this Code of Ethics, and to supply the Society with
a signed statement to witness this agreement (which includes any future amendments);
to abide by and observe the Memorandum and Articles of Association, regulations
and pronouncements of the Society; to secure and maintain full medical malpractice
and liability insurance in accordance with the decisions of the Board of Directors
of the Society; to advise the Professional Conduct Department immediately in
the event of any police or governmental (including local government) inquiry
into their practice, and to submit to the jurisdiction of the Professional Conduct
Department.

Homeopathy is a unique medical system and therapeutic discipline which fulfils
an important role in health care; it serves to prevent ill health as well as
being of benefit to most patients in both acute and chronic disease.

A professional homeopath, as a result of education, training and clinical experience,
is competent to treat patients presenting with a wide variety of conditions.

Homeopathy may not always be the most appropriate form of treatment. No one
system can deal with all that an individual may need, nor serve the entire population.

Guiding Principles encourage integrity and responsibility in the practice of
homeopathy.

They exist for the benefit of patients, the development of understanding between
colleagues, and the reputation and advancement of our profession.

It is important to understand how each guiding principle applies to everyday
practice. They are expanded and explained in this Code. Whilst the Code cannot
resolve all ethical and practice- related issues, it aims to provide a framework
for establishing ethical practice as an integral aspect of the homeopath’s
role in encouraging optimum levels of practice.

They also form the basis for discussion when considering any complaint made
against a homeopath.

Central Principles

1 The homeopath’s highest and only calling is to make sick people healthy,
to heal, as it is termed (according to the founder of homeopathy, Dr. Samuel
Hahnemann).

2 Homeopaths practise their profession with integrity and dignity, being guided
by ethical principles which inform their conduct towards, and care of, patient
and colleague alike.

Respecting the Person – Respecting Autonomy – Maintaining Confidentiality

3 Homeopaths owe duty of care to patients and have regard for their wishes.

4 Homeopaths maintain the customary practice of keeping confidential all that
a patient says, and all that is written in case notes.

5 Homeopaths recognise and encourage patient responsibility for their own healing
and learning via, for example, discussion or educational dialogue. This process
forms an important part in establishing infor med consent.

6 It is important that patients are given information in a way they can fully
understand, and for all matters that concern them to be clearly explained and
agreed.

7 Homeopaths speak or write respectfully of fellow homeopaths to patients,
students or supervisees, or the general public.

Working to Clear Contracts – Avoiding Harm

8 Homeopaths practise with integrity and competence any skills other than
homeopathy as they may think appropriate, in a course of treatment. Pr ior to
the first appointment, they shall make it clear to the patient concerned the
nature of the treatment offered and indicate their relevant qualifications,
membership of register ing body and adherence to separate code of conduct for
the practice of such skills. See also 61.

9 Homeopaths are responsible for continuing their personal and professional
development by undertaking supervision, conferring with colleagues, and acquiring
knowledge of new theory and practice through further training and study, for
example participating in continuing professional development (CPD).

10 Failure to engage per iodically in a reasonable amount of CPD may be taken
into account when hearing allegations which call into question a member’s
professional competence.

11 Homeopaths report research findings and clinical experience methodically,
honestly and without distortion. All speculative theories will be stated as
such and clearly distinguished.

Avoiding Harm – Monitoring Competence

12 Homeopaths are responsible for monitoring their competence and becoming
aware of the necessity to consult with colleagues or to refer a patient to a
suitably qualified and experienced practitioner.

13 Homeopaths support and assist each other in their study and practice.

Maintaining Appropriate Boundaries

14 Homeopaths are responsible for avoiding exploitation of their patients
financially, emotionally, sexually, or in any other way.

Monitoring Standards, Invoking Society Procedures

15 Any homeopath who becomes aware through a patient that the patient has
an alleged complaint against a previous practitioner shall provide to the patient
a copy of the Society’s brochure Expressing Concerns, Making Complaints
.

16 Where good reason exists to believe a fellow homeopath has acted unwisely,
irresponsibly, or illegally, as a first step, and with full confidentiality,
attempt to discuss the matter with them.

Alternatively or subsequently contact the Professional Conduct Department of
the Society, asking for help to resolve the matter.

Guidelines for Clinical Practice support the previous section’s
Guiding Principles.

The essential elements of good practice lie in professional competence, responsible
relationships with patients and colleagues, and observance of ethical principles.

The following guidelines offer advice on what is widely regarded as good practice
in the therapeutic environment.

They have the additional function of helping to avoid misunderstandings or
conflicts with patients or other professionals. Where unwise conduct occurs,
it is possible for a homeopath to be regarded as having been careless, discourteous,
unprofessional or negligent – liable to a formal complaint being made
to the Society, or legal proceedings taken in a civil court.

Clinical Care

17 Patients are entitled to a professional standard of practice and care.
Essential elements of this are professional competence, good relationships with
patients and colleagues, and observance of professional ethical obligations.

18 Similarly, for any homeopathic proving, provers (who are volunteers) will
have signed a consent document indicating their understanding of the nature
of the proving process. They will be entitled to the same care and super vision
as patients.

19 Premises, equipment and medicines are to be kept in a serviceable, hygienic
and secure condition (see also 82).

Provision of Treatment

20 Homeopaths make all reasonable efforts to provide or continue treatment
of patients who request it. It may be necessary to decline to provide or terminate
existing treatment, where it is thought to be in the best interests of the patient,
for any reason.

21 Where an existing patient, by virtue of illness, is unable to give consent
for continuing treatment, the wishes of the immediate relatives should be respected.

This also applies when approached by the relative of someone who is not yet
a patient.

22 When dealing with cases of a serious and possibly terminal nature, ensure
that the patient is fully aware of the advisability of keeping their GP informed
of their condition. Where possible and appropriate, ask for the patient’s
permission to write to their GP concerning their progress.

23 The gravity of a patient’s condition is not to be exaggerated, nor
any promise be made as to the results of treatment, to the patient or anyone
else.

Medication

24 When a patient’s condition improves as a result of homeopathic treatment
and it seems possible to reduce dependence upon allopathic or any other medication,
responsibility for adjusting the dosage or ceasing to take prescribed drugs
lies with the patient and the prescribing practitioner.

25 Where such knowledge or consent cannot be obtained either by practitioner
or by patient, expert pharmaceutical advice may be sought from another competent
practitioner.

26 If a patient is considered to be suffering any adverse effects from currently
or previously prescribed medication, previous surger y or other medical intervention,
a homeopath may draw this to the patient’s attention. It may be appropriate,
with the patient’s consent, to refer them back to the person having clinical
responsibility for the patient at that time, with an explanatory letter.

Monitoring of Competence

27 A competent homeopath identifies those occasions when a patient’s
condition is:

• beyond the present limits of their clinical competence and expertise.

• likely to receive more immediate, effective benefit from another form
of treatment.

• showing signs and symptoms suggestive of an underlying condition which
requires referral for investigation and other medical diagnosis.

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