Code of Ethics

Introduction

This code of ethics and practice summarises the standards set by the Malta Association of Homeopaths (MAH). All its registered members agree to abide by this code, which offers guidance on the observance of the standards and indicates areas where particular challenges might arise.

Professional homeopaths have a duty to their patients, the public, their colleagues and their profession, so therefore they have to maintain a high standard of care, competence and conduct.

Members should be aware that standards of good practice have been agreed throughout the profession in the form of the National Occupational Standards of Homeopathy, ideally members should be acquainted with the recommendations set out in these standards.

A professional homeopath has, by becoming a member of the Association agreed to abide by and observe this Code of Ethics, and to supply the Association with a signed statement to witness this agreement.

Homeopathy is a unique medical system and therapeutic discipline which fulfils an important role in health care, it serves to prevent ill health as well as being of benefit to most patients in both acute and chronic disease.

A Professional homeopath, as a result of education, training and clinical experience is competent to treat patients presenting with a wide variety of conditions.

Homeopathy may not always be the most appropriate form of treatment. No one system can be all that an individual needs, nor serve the entire population.

Guiding principles encourage integrity and responsibility in the practise of homeopathy. They exist for the benefit of patients, the development of understanding between colleagues, and the reputation and advancement of our profession.

The Homeopath's highest and only calling is to make sick people healthy, to heal, as it is termed according to the founder of homeopathy Dr. Samuel Hahnemann.

Clarity of Contract

In order to ensure patients are able to make informed choices with regard to their healthcare, members should give full and clear information about:

Referrals

Patients are encouraged to inform their GP or healthcare practitioner that they are receiving homeopathic treatment and with the patient's consent, the member may also inform the GP of this in writing.

Details of all recommended referrals to other homeopaths or healthcare practitioners are to be recorded in the patient's notes at the time the recommendation is made.

If the patient at any point declines to give consent for the member to make this contact, their wishes must be respected at all the times and recorded in their notes.

Practices other than Homeopathy

If during the course of treatment, it is considered appropriate to employ therapies other than homeopathy, the member will practise these therapies with integrity and competence. The nature of the treatment offered should be made clear to the patient and members should indicate their relevant qualification.

Accuracy of Records

All case notes will be clear, legible and contain all the relevant information relating to the progress of the case. They will enable a third party to have an understanding of the patient's state at the time of a consultation, and whether the patient has improved, maintained or deteriorated in their condition since they were last seen. This is particularly important should the member be involved in legal proceedings.

To ensure continuity of cure, the treatment of a patient known to be under the care of another homeopath should ideally not be undertaken without informing them and requesting details of the patient's treatments to date. However, this must be done with the patient's full knowledge and consent. If the patient does not agree to this, a note of this fact should be recorded, indicating that continuity of care could not be achieved.

Patients should be notified in the event of the death or incapacitating illness of the member treating them. The member will make prior arrangements for the case notes to be returned to patients or destroyed.

Competence and Continuing Professional Development

Homeopaths are responsible for continuing their personal and professional development by undertaking supervision, conferring with colleagues and acquiring knowledge of new theory and practice through further training and study, so participating in continued professional development (CPD), by attending appropriate seminars and post graduate training courses.

Confidentiality and Disclosure

Members must ensure that patient's information is kept secure and confidential, access being restricted to members and their assistants or agents, unless the patient agrees otherwise in writing, or unless access is requested through the process of law.

Storage

Full and clear records of all the treatments of patients should be made; kept and stored for at least seven years from the date of the last consultation, ensuring compliance with the requirements of the Data Protection Act, whereupon they can be destroyed, with care taken to preserve complete confidentiality.

Clarity of Service

Members must establish and monitor clear boundaries between all parties to the therapeutic relationship in order to maintain the impartial professional position that needs to exist.

Thus, whilst it is not the object of these guidelines to go into the realms of morality, some points must be made.

On most occasions any form of emotional, intimate or sexual encounters between a member and their patient can be construed as an abuse of trust and power. Such situations are therefore to be actively discouraged, particularly if the relationship is clandestine. Members should actively avoid placing themselves in such a situation. Any complaint against a member resulting from such actions will be dealt with severely by the MAH if there is evidence that there has been an abuse of power or trust.

Legal Obligations

Advertising and Media

All advertising must be decent, legal, honest and truthful, and must not make claims to superiority or disparage professional colleagues or other professions. It must not be designed to mislead or deceive, or make unrealistic or extravagant claims.

Provisions of Treatment

Homeopaths make all reasonable efforts to provide or continue treatment of patients who request it. It may be necessary to decline to provide or terminate existing treatment, where it is thought to be in the interest of the patient, for any reason.

If a member's mental, emotional or physical health becomes impaired to such an extent that they are unable to give their patients an optimum level of care, they should swiftly seek and follow appropriate professional advice.

If for whatever reason, the trust between a patient and member breaks down to such an extent that the member can no longer offer an appropriate standard of care or service, either the member or the patient may end the relationship. If it happens the member should try to make sure the patient has an alternative source of homeopathic care if they want or need it. With the patient's permission, the member should provide the new practitioner with sufficient information to allow responsibility for care to be handed over without delay.