AMA Journal of Ethics. October 2015, Volume 17, Number 10: 922-923.
The Code Says
The AMA Code of Medical Ethics’ Opinion on Interrogation of Detainees
The AMA Code of Medical Ethics’ opinion on physician participation in interrogations.
Opinion 2.068 - Physician Participation in Interrogation
Interrogation is defined as questioning related to law enforcement or to military and national security intelligence gathering, designed to prevent harm or danger to individuals, the public, or national security. Interrogations are distinct from questioning used by physicians to assess the physical or mental condition of an individual. To be appropriate, interrogations must avoid the use of coercion—that is, threatening or causing harm through physical injury or mental suffering. In this Opinion, “detainee” is defined as a criminal suspect, prisoner of war, or any other individual who is being held involuntarily.
Physicians who engage in any activity that relies on their medical knowledge and skills must continue to uphold principles of medical ethics. Questions about the propriety of physician participation in interrogations and in the development of interrogation strategies may be addressed by balancing obligations to individuals with obligations to protect third parties and the public. The further removed the physician is from direct involvement with a detainee, the more justifiable is a role serving the public interest. Applying this general approach, physician involvement with interrogations during law enforcement or intelligence gathering should be guided by the following:
Issued November 2006 based on the report “Physician Participation in Interrogation,” adopted June 2006.
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