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Following professional codes of practice and military orders in austere military environments: a controversial debate on ethical challenges
  1. Janet Kelly
  1. Correspondence to Dr Janet Kelly, Faculty of Health and Social Care, University of Hull, Hull HU6 7RX, UK; j.kelly{at}


In 2004, the World Medical Association's International Code of Ethics claimed that ‘medical ethics in armed conflict is identical to medical ethics in times of peace’. This paper challenges this notion and suggests that the hostile, austere and diverse environments in which military doctors and nurses serve are significantly more problematic and different to a civilian healthcare environment. It debates that there may be some incompatibility and challenges between following military orders such as the protocols written down in a Medical Rules of Eligibility matrix and professional codes of practice in these environments. This is either where fighting takes place or where the mission is for humanitarian purposes.


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