By Joy Wingfield, David Badcott

It is a primer in expert ethics and responsibility for working towards pharmacists. It offers a complementary source to the RPSGB Code of Ethics, to lead pharmacists of their expert perform.

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We may say that the harmful effect was contingent, that is dependent on an uncertain event or circumstance. But what if the harmful consequence was not (entirely) unexpected? Such circumstances are not uncommon, even beyond the activities of the now notorious Dr Harold Shipman. Administration of powerful sedatives or analgesics in palliative care to terminally ill patients (beneficence) may have the effect of shortening life. The intention is one of palliation in severe pain (beneficence), but the prospect may be that the patient will die.

It relates in philosophical terms to knowing or rather not knowing what someone else believes. For instance when a patient says ‘I believe that x’, or ‘I understand that y’, can we be really sure that what they say coincides with what they believe? We can set aside for the time being truthfulness and telling lies; we will return to these later in the chapter. In absolute terms, O’Neill is quite right to insist that it is impossible to establish or to ascertain that both parties, the consenter and the one by whom nominal consent is received, have an entirely common understanding of just what has been agreed.

Oxford: Clarendon Press. References 23 Hepler C (2000). Relationship-based, not duty-based. Pharmaceutical Journal 264: 692. Herodotus (447–449 BC). The Histories. Introduction and notes by D Lateiner, 2004. New York: Barnes & Noble Classics. ]. Hollis M (1989). Atomic energy and moral glue. Journal of Philosophy of Education 23: 185–193. Holloway S (2000). Values and the practice of pharmacy. Pharmaceutical Journal 265: 308–312. Hume D (1739–1740). A Treatise of Human Nature, Book II, Section 111.

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