Book of the month: An archaeology of corruption in medicine
Authors: Little, M; Lipworth, W and Kerridge, I
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Corruption is a word used loosely to describe many kinds of action that people find dis-tasteful. We prefer to reserve it for the intentional misuse of the good offices of an established social entity for private benefit posing as fair-trading. The currency of corruption is not always material or financial. Moral corruption is all too familiar within churches and other ostensibly beneficent institutions, and it happens within medicine and the pharmaceutical industries. Corrupt behaviour reduces trust, costs money, causes injustice and arouses anger. Yet it persists, despite all efforts since the beginnings of societies. People who act corruptly may lack con-science and empathy in the same way as those with some personality disorders. Finding ways to prevent corruption from contaminating beneficent organisations is therefore likely to be frustratingly difficult. Transparency and accountability may go some way, but the determined corruptor is unlikely to feel constrained by moral and reporting requirements of this kind. Punishment and redress are complicated issues, unlikely to satisfy victims and society at large. Both perhaps should deal in the same currency – material or social – in which the corrupt dealing took place.
Copyright/License: This article has been published in a revised form in Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics https://doi.org/10.1017/S0963180117000925 . This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. © copyright holder.