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New ethics rules for MDs

The minister of health on Monday warned doctors to abide by ethical standards and maintain proper medical records, saying that the ministry will take legal action against those that don’t, without explaining the consequences in detail.

The minister’s statement laid out five standards: putting more effort into patient care instead of extracting money; giving correct, clearly written prescriptions; explaining how to use the medicine; not peeling expiration dates or brand names from medicine; and keeping complete medical records.

“Do not think so much about money . . . and save the life of the traffic accident patient first before processing their documents,” said Minister Mam Bun Heng. Provincial medical departments were also told to pay closer attention to local doctors.

Cambodian-American doctor Quach Mengly said that many doctors prescribe the most expensive procedure that the patient can afford without worrying how it affects their health, while the lack of medical records makes it impossible for patients to be referred to specialists or get consistent treatment. “It’s a norm, it’s a culture,” he said.

A medical expert in Phnom Penh, speaking on condition of anonymity, agreed with Mengly, adding that while the ministry’s warning is commendable, it lacks the manpower and budget for enforcement.

The Medical Council of Cambodia was not available for comment yesterday.

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