Re-thinking degrees in Clinical Ethics and Law from Sir Pierre Mallia – Minister for Health and Hospitaller Affairs of KMFAP (Knights of Malta)

Dear Knights and Dames,

please find attached a document that you may find useful if you are in healthcare. Ethics in Health Care, also known as Medical Ethics or even Bioethics, has become a public discussion involving legal, social and religious institutions. Unfortunately, the medical profession is less involved. It is a fact, however, that the dominance of theologians and philosophers has confused what clinical ethics is in practice with simple ethical values discussed in theory.

Clinical Ethics involves an encounter with the patient. It’s not much about what is ethically correct, but rather about finding the right way to communicate well with our patients. For example, in the past we have been told that we have a right to refuse to attend abortions, which in turn has led doctors to turn them away. What does that say about a doctor? A doctor should be trained to ask specific questions and help people arrive at a more thoughtful outcome. This technique should be taught.

In Malta we have developed a Masters in Clinical Ethics and Law. In this work, which I published in 'Ethics Education' by Springer, the aims and objectives of the degree and its implementation are discussed. Of particular interest to students and consultants was the module in the 'Ethics Ward Round', in which students can see, discuss and even observe ethical cases being treated in practice, which often differs from a purely theoretical approach lending itself to time that we simply do not have with patients.

I would appreciate if you could pass this paper on to friends or colleagues who you think might benefit.

Yours sincerely,

Prof. Pierre Mallia, KM
Minister for Health and Hospitaller Affairs

1st June 2021