An Overview to Military Medical Ethics

Martin Bricknell, Rowan Story

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This paper provides an overview of military medical ethics (MME). It intends to inform military medical professionals on the breadth of the subject, including important subordinate topics, in preparation for further study. The paper opens by introducing core concepts at the intersection of medical and military ethics. It then examines the ethical issues that arise during conflict, focusing on obligations under international humanitarian law (IHL) and the Geneva Conventions. While MME might be most challenging during conflict, many issues also arise during healthcare practice in garrison healthcare. This includes biomedical research on military subjects or within military scientific laboratories. It also emphasises the need for strategic policy and education programs in MME. The paper concludes by identifying issues for further debate covering civil–military relations in complex emergencies and humanitarian crises, medical rules of eligibility, mitigation of risks to military healthcare workers, uses of technical medical knowledge to inform future military weapons and accountability for transgressions of MME. The comprehensive reference list provides a guide to sources for further study.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-16
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Military and Veterans Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2022


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