April 13, 2024

Thou shalt not bear false witness

Most medical ethics issues are brain teasers, but occasionally they are just no brainers. Take this case brought before the UK’s medical registration board, the General Medical Council. Dr Alan Howlett, a general practitioner from Devon, was suspended for 10 months because he failed to disclose that he had been named a beneficiary in the will of an elderly woman in his care.

He lied on the form which authorised her cremation and stated that he had no pecuniary interest in her death. Furthermore, he failed to honour an agreement with his partners to disclose any such bequests. A remorseful Dr Howlett was told that “the offence for which you were cautioned is one which is particularly serious in professional terms”.