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United Press International
BOSTON, Nov 5, 2007 (UPI via COMTEX) — A Harvard study showed U.S. medical students receive little information about military medical ethics or a physician’s duties under the Geneva Conventions.
Harvard Medical School researchers surveyed eight U.S. medical schools and found 94 percent of students receive less than one hour of instruction about military medical ethics.
Only 37 percent of medical students knew the Geneva Conventions apply regardless of whether war has been declared; 33.8 percent didn’t know the conventions require physicians to “treat the sickest first, regardless of nationality”; and 37 percent didn’t know they are prohibited from threatening or demeaning prisoners.
Dr. Wesley Boyd, lead author of the study, said reported abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay prisons have galvanized much of the world against the United States.
“Those abuses, in part abetted by physicians, will likely go down as one of our century’s most egregious ethical lapses,” said Boyd. “The dearth of teaching about these issues in medical schools is a travesty, and medical schools need to begin teaching military medical ethics to ensure all physicians have a solid understanding of their ethical obligations in times of war.”
The study is reported in the International Journal for Health Services.
Copyright 2007 by United Press International

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