J Korean Med Assoc.  2017 Jan;60(1):32-39. 10.5124/jkma.2017.60.1.32.

Medical ethics guidelines and related laws

  • 1Department of Social Medicine, Dankook University College of Medicine, Cheonan, Korea. hywopark@gmail.com


Professional ethics can often encompass areas regulated by law. This is true of the Korean Medical Association (KMA) code of ethics. Therefore, doctors should consider their legal obligations when complying with medical ethics guidelines. A revision prepared by the KMA committee on medical ethics guidelines contains 5 types of amendments. First, some guidelines deal with areas that are not governed by current legislation. A second set of guidelines clarify the obligation to comply with current legislation by specifying "to the extent permitted by the law". A third set of guidelines repeat the contents of current legislation almost verbatim. A fourth set of guidelines explain the content of the current legislation in lay language when a chance of misunderstanding is present. Fifth, some guidelines can be interpreted as being in conflict with current legislation. The statement that physicians must consider the content of relevant laws does not mean that they must accept those laws uncritically. At a minimum, doctors should avoid falling into legal difficulties because of legal ignorance. Furthermore, doctors must make efforts to revise relevant laws that are not acceptable from the point of view of medical ethics. If doctors continue this effort, they can maintain their professional dignity. The revision of the medical ethics guidelines is the beginning of this effort. If doctors understand the relationship between medical ethics guidelines and current legislation, it will be easier for doctors to comply with medical ethics guidelines in the clinical setting.


Professional ethics; Code of ethics; Legal obligation

MeSH Terms

Accidental Falls
Codes of Ethics
Ethics, Medical*
Ethics, Professional

Cited by  1 articles

The revision of the ethical codes and guidelines of the Korean Medical Association
Gook-Ki Kim, Seok Gun Park
J Korean Med Assoc. 2017;60(1):5-7.    doi: 10.5124/jkma.2017.60.1.5.


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