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Military Medical Ethics

© IWM (Art.IWM ART 1460)The ethical issues that arise for Armed Forces medical personnel on deployment can be extremely complex. The range of factors that medical personnel may need to take into account can be greater than in civilian medicine (for example complying with the Geneva Convention, the care of Captured Persons, adhering to the Chain of Command - including working within Medical Rules of Eligibility, and the need to support the integrity of the local health service even where it is less able to offer specialist care). Military healthcare professionals are not only deployed during conflicts. They may also be called upon to respond to humanitarian crises around the world. In between deployments, personnel are also involved in more regular clinical duties and research aimed at improving and protecting the health of military personal. These activities may also generate ethical issues.

Professor Heather Draper has been collaborating with the Royal Centre of Defence Medicine (RCDM) (Research and Academia Medical Directorate) for several years on projects related to improving ethics training. She is also a member of the Defence Medical Services (DMS) Ethics Committee and a regular contributor to the annual DMS Ethics Symposium. She has recently co-authored a paper considering the ethics of 'Left of bang' medical prophylaxis for potential trauma.

Current projects

Military healthcare professionals' experiences of ethical challenges whilst on Ebola humanitarian deployment (Sierra Leone)

Previous projects
A service evaluation of the use of the four-quadrant approach to assess the ethical dimensions of clinical decision-making during deployment

An exploration of the range of medical ethical issues faced by senior military clinicians to determine how best to support medical ethical decision-making in future military operations.