Professional Accountability (Part 1)



This is the first article in a two-part series on professional accountability for medical doctors. In this section, the objectives and principles set out by the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) Ethical Code & Ethical Guidelines (ECEG) and the Medical Registration Act (MRA) are highlighted.


What is professional accountability?

Professional accountability is the answerability of behaviour and work performance that is placed on professionals above and beyond the laws applied to society at large. Society must be able to trust the professional who has knowledge and skills that are relied upon. This may be compared to the legal concept of a fiduciary duty, where the person of superior knowledge and training is expected to act in the best interests of the person who places reliance on this.

Paragraph 1 of the Preamble to the SMC ECEG 20161 illustrates it thus: “as a member of the medical profession, you are held in the highest esteem by the public and society, who depend on a reliable and trustworthy healthcare system and look to you for the relief of their suffering and ailments. Much trust is therefore vested in you to do your best by both. This trust is contingent on the profession maintaining the highest standards of professional practice and conduct. You must therefore strive to continually strengthen the trust that has been bestowed.”