Ethics move front and center

November 28, 2005

If you thought that sexual harassment had nothing to do with radiology, think again. Several sessions at this year’s RSNA meeting discuss professional conduct issues, according to ACR/RSNA officials.

If you thought that sexual harassment had nothing to do with radiology, think again. Several sessions at this year's RSNA meeting discuss professional conduct issues, according to ACR/RSNA officials.

High-profile cases of ethical violations involving corporate and public figures have made shocking headlines. Radiologists, though, tend to dismiss these and a number of serious criminal offenses as out of touch with their profession. They occur more often than noticed and should be addressed, said Dr. Leonard Berlin, chair of the American College of Radiology's ethics committee and vice chair of the RSNA's professionalism committee.

"Radiologists talk a lot about expert witness testimony and malpractice issues because they constitute a major threat to radiology. There are several other things just as important they are not talking about," Berlin said.

To tackle this issue, the 2005 RSNA meeting is dedicating a number of sessions to the discussion of topics ranging from continuing medical education standards to euthanasia and physician-vendor relationships:

  • a refresher course on the use and abuse of power on Sunday, Nov. 27

  • a scientific paper presentation on euthanasia from western and eastern philosophical and religious perspectives, also on Sunday

  • a refresher course on the ethical considerations of CME on Tuesday, Nov. 29

  • an infoRAD presentation on the code of conduct regulating physician-vendor relations on Wednesday, Nov. 30, hosted by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association

  • an infoRAD presentation on the ethical considerations of health informatics, also on Wednesday

  • a refresher course on self-referral in imaging on Thursday, Dec. 1

The NEMA session on Wednesday will outline the guidelines of proper conduct between vendors of imaging equipment and the medical professionals who use or buy such equipment. Speakers include ACR assistant general counsel Tom Hoffman, Linda Wawzenski from the U.S. Attorney's office for the Northern District of Illinois, Sheila Finnegan representing local legal firm Mayer Brown & Platt, and NEMA officials.

NEMA developed its code of ethics to anticipate potential conflicts that could involve violation of federal laws. The Nov. 30 session will provide depth and detail that all medical professionals involved with imaging should understand, said Robert Britain, NEMA's vice president of medical products, in a press release.

"Learning why codes of ethics matter will help radiologists serve their patients' needs by interacting confidently with the medical imaging industry," Hoffman said.