Principles of Ethical Conduct and Practice: Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO)
One of the hallmarks of a profession is the ability to self-regulate and to define standards of conduct. (Swick, 2000) While professionalism may have many facets, the establishment of a code of ethics for the profession or specialty remains a hallmark of distinction.
One of the first actions of the American Medical Association after its founding in 1847 was to develop a Code of Medical Ethics. The Code has seen many changes in the last 171 years, and currently exists as a set of ten Principles and a more detailed Code numbering hundreds of pages which offers opinions on topics commonly held in tension in medical practice. (AMA, 2015)
Similarly, after its founding in 1951, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) developed a Code of Ethics which includes sections on Ethical foundations, Physician Conduct and Practice, Conflicts of Interest, Professional Relations, and Societal Responsibilities. While taking some inspiration from the AMA Code, ACOG’s Code also opines on problems unique to women’s health and specialists in women’s healthcare. (ACOG, 2011)
The Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO) is now a mature Society, having success through 50 years of service to women with gynecologic malignancies. What was initially a small, intimate group of gynecologic oncologists, has now grown into a large, multi-faceted organization with members who are gynecologic oncologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, fellows, resident physicians, advanced practice nurses, physician assistants and researchers.
Each of those groups may see professionalism through a different filter due to their scope of practice, training and association with other professional groups. It is important for SGO to have a unified set of ethical principles to which all of our diverse members can agree to uphold. This is an important marker of professionalism and will serve to reassure our patients, communities, and interested parties outside of medicine that members of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology are dedicated to our patients’ welfare.
Principles of Ethical Conduct and Practice
As a member of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology, I pledge to adhere to the following Principles of Ethical Conduct and Practice.
- To uphold the welfare of the patient as paramount.
- To care for our patients with the utmost care, compassion, honesty, and respect throughout the course of their disease, including the end of life.
- To develop and maintain my education, skills and competence in caring for women with gynecologic malignancies throughout my career.
- To treat colleagues and coworkers with dignity, respect, and compassion, regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, religion, sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity in my clinical practice as well as within the Society of Gynecologic Oncology.
- To uphold my profession with honesty and integrity, and to report impaired, dishonest, or unprofessional colleagues.
- To advocate for advancing the care of women with gynecologic malignancies with patients, families, the public, community, and legislators.
- To advocate for the highest standards of research in gynecologic oncology, promote the science of gynecologic oncology, and expose any instance of research misconduct whenever I become aware of it.
- To minimize conflicts of interest in my practice with payors, institutions, pharmaceutical companies, device companies, and referral sources and to accurately disclose conflicts of interest where relevant.
- To minimize financial conflicts of interest and conflicts of commitment relevant to the Society of Gynecologic Oncology as required for leadership and committee participation, and during my presentations for continuing medical education events.
- To provide honest evaluation and testimony about the standard of medical care of a gynecologic oncology patient when asked as part of a peer review, root cause analysis, quality assurance or medical malpractice action.
- Swick, HM. Toward a normative definition of medical professionalism. Acad. Med. 2000;75:612-616.
- American Medical Association Code of Medical Ethics. AMA Press, Chicago, IL. 2017.
- Code of Professional Ethics of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. ACOG, Washington, DC. July, 2011. Accessed online 111218.