Professional Ethics for Psychiatrists

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These ethical principles have been drawn up by the Human Rights and Ethics Committee of the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland, following a request from the Medical Council of Ireland to each of the Colleges to draw up their own Code of Professional Ethics.

These principles are based on a number of documents including the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Good Psychiatric Practice; Code of Ethics (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2014), the Declaration of Hawaii (World Psychiatric Association, 1977), the Declaration of Madrid (World Psychiatric Association, 1996, updated 2011), documents from the UK, Canada and Australia, and from an email survey of College members, the responses to which were collated by the committee.

These are general principles which reflect international ethical guidelines and complement the Medical Council’s Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics for registered Medical Practitioners (Medical Council, 2016). These principles may be subject to change over time to reflect changing societal attitudes and norms, and changes in relevant legislation.

It is important to stress that this guide is not a legal code; rather it sets out the principles of professional practice and conduct that psychiatrists are expected to follow and adhere to, for the benefit of the patients they care for, themselves, and their colleagues. This document is designed to underpin more detailed practice guidance for doctors, who also have a duty to ensure compliance with all laws and regulations pertaining to their practice.