Probity in professional practice: Part 1

By Dr Ashok G Patel and Dr Haider Malik


Last updated: July 2018


This module, the first in a two-part series, contains guidance on how harm to patients and psychiatrists can be prevented. The harm can be psychological, professional or involve damage to the reputation of a service or medical profession.


The focus of this module is on the relationships of psychiatrists with patients, their carers and families. Psychiatrists must be prepared to justify what they do in their practice, including in circumstances where breaches of confidentiality may be appropriate and necessary (GMC, 2013).


It is of particular importance to maintain a high standard of practice, conduct and vigilance with regards to vulnerable children and adults. In the changing social context of medical practice, there is a shift towards doctors proving that they maintain trust as opposed to previous 'systems' where trust was assumed. Psychiatrists must be aware of and comply with equal opportunities legislation and work to ensure that their practice is non-discriminatory.


Most of the dilemmas faced by psychiatrists exist because of uncertainty, and this is where the need to justify at all times is so important. To be a good psychiatrist, one needs to be able to live with a degree of uncertainty and appreciate that there are rarely right and wrong answers.


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If you like this module, you may also be interested in:


Probity in professional practice: Part 2 by Dr Ashok Patel and Dr Haider Malik


Boundary violations and sexual exploitation: recognition, avoidance and management by Dr Neil Margerison and Professor Susan Bewley


Problem psychiatrists: Part 1 – introduction to dealing with poor performance by Dr Neil Margerison


Avoiding clinical bias in psychiatry by Prasanna N. de Silva


Abuse of the Doctor-Patient Relationship (book from RCPsych Publications)


BJPsych Advances: related articles for CPD Online



Related Advances articles


Download take-home notes to print and annotateDownload take-home notes to print and annotate


An electronic handbook is available with these modules, containing vignettes and FAQs relevant to professional practice.


View the handbook


In the second module in this series, Probity in professional practice: Part 2, we look at the relationships of psychiatrists with commercial organisations as well as the Royal College of Psychiatrists. We also look at relationships with colleagues, probity and health declarations.


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