Ethics, from the Greek word ethikos, meaning customary, or na-ture, is the study of standards of conduct and moral judgment. These two definitions summarize the core features of ethics. The term customary speaks to the social component of ethics, while nature emphasizes that the actor’s own character is an importantcomponent. Ethics also refers to the system or code of morals of a particular person, religion, group, or profession (Webster’s, 1980). In recent years, professional ethics have evolved from widely understood principles of etiquette and consideration for dealing with other members of the profession, to sets of rules that govern the relationship between a professional and a client or patient (Kelly, 1998). These modern principles are built upon the most ancient ideal of medical ethics: first do no harm.
Certain basic assumptions form the framework of psychi-atric ethics. Society and the medical profession expect the physi-cian to do the following:
· Deliver competent, compassionate, and respectful care.
· Deal honestly with patients and colleagues.
· Act within the bounds of the law.
· Respect the rights and autonomy of the patient.
· Be responsible to the community and society.