J Korean Med Assoc.  2014 Jul;57(7):594-600. 10.5124/jkma.2014.57.7.594.

Ethical aspects for the rules and procedures for issuing medical certificates

  • 1Department of Institutional Review and Research Ethics, Nicholas Cardinal Cheong Graduate School for Life, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea. bichoe@catholic.ac.kr
  • 2Ethical Regulatory Council, Korean Medical Association, Seoul, Korea.


Writing a medical certificate can be a complicated part of medical practice. A doctor is expected to sign a variety of medical certificates that range in purpose from confirming sickness to certifying death. Medical certificates are legal documents based on clear and relevant evidence and should be written promptly, honestly, accurately, and objectively. Medical certificates may have financial implications for the patient or recipient through benefits, employment, or compensation payments, and a failure to complete a certificate appropriately may have a negative impact on the patient, the patient's family, or the receiving organization. For example, a doctor who certifies a patient to undertake work when he or she is unfit may place the patient or the patient's colleagues or the organization at risk. Society places a great deal of trust in doctors. This article attempts to propose ethical considerations based on the findings of two guides: the "Guide for writing medical certificates" prepared by the Korean Medical Association and the "Statement on medical certification" prepared by the Medical Council of New Zealand. The authors discuss some suggestions for guidance in medical certification to protect each individual involved and to promote good medical practice. The structured step table and self-check list provided may be of assistance.


Certificates; Ethics, medical; Physician-patient relations; Writing

MeSH Terms

Compensation and Redress
Ethics, Medical
New Zealand
Physician-Patient Relations


1. Koh YS, Koo YM, Min WK, Kim YS, Lee JD, Han OS. A survey of professors' opinions on medical ethics issues in Korean university hospitals in Seoul and Gyeonggi province. Korean J Med Ethics Educ. 2004; 7:130–140.
2. Korean Medical Association. Guidelines for medical certificates. Seoul: Korean Medical Association;2003.
3. Joo HN. Falsified medical certificates. Korean J Med Law. 2008; 16:23–36.
4. Hwang MS. The legal problems on the crime of issuance of falsified medical certificates and the false writing of medical examination record. Hanyang Law Rev. 2011; 28:5–33.
5. Bae H. Physician liability and social responsibility related with medical certificates. Ewha Med J. 2013; 36:102–111.
6. Jung HS. Medical certificates and physicians' legal duty. J Korean Med Assoc. 2005; 48:869–878.
7. Korean Medical Association. World Medical Association medical ethics manual [Internet]. Seoul: Korean Medical Association;2005. cited 2014 Jun 6. Available from: http://www.kma.org/kma_ori/special/wma_ethic/wma_ethic.html.
8. Kim BH, Im JI, Im YK, Nam U. Review of guide to medical certificate issued by Korean medical association. J Korean Soc Fract. 1999; 12:56–60.
9. Choe BI. Introduction to biomedical research integrity and its systems. Seoul: GCO Science Publishing;2009.
10. Yu HJ. The usefulness and binding feature of code of doctor's ethics. Korean J Med Ethics Educ. 2003; 6:143–160.
11. Kang MS. Detached concern and the professional ethics of doctors. Korean J Med Ethics Educ. 2007; 10:135–148.
12. Australian Medical Council. Good medical practice: a code of conduct for doctors in Australia. Canberra: Australian Medical Council;2009.
13. Choi KS. Medical ethics and professional education: educational status and roles of philosophy. J Hum Stud. 2007; 12:218–243.
14. Kwon I. A critical review of the current medical ethics education in Korea. Korean J Med Ethics Educ. 2006; 9:60–72.
15. Meng KH. Ethics education in medical school: why? what and how? Korean J Med Ethics Educ. 1998; 1:71–82.
16. Park SH, Koh YS. Attitudes toward medical ethics among resident physicians in one Korean university hospital. Korean J Med Ethics Educ. 2007; 10:109–116.
17. Korean Medical Association Education Center [Internet]. Seoul: Korean Medical Association Education Center;cited 2014 Jun 6. Available from: http://edu.kma.org/main/index.asp.
Full Text Links
  • JKMA
export Copy
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
Similar articles
Copyright © 2024 by Korean Association of Medical Journal Editors. All rights reserved.     E-mail: koreamed@kamje.or.kr