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AMA J Ethics. 2018 Apr 1;20(4):349-356. doi: 10.1001/journalofethics.2018.20.4.nlit1-1804.

Plastic Surgery's Contributions to Surgical Ethics.

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A sixth-year resident in plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of Chicago Medicine.
A board-certified general and endocrine surgeon with CareMount Medical, and served as a senior ethics fellow at the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago.


We review Kevin Chung and colleagues' 2009 Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeryarticle, "A Systematic Review of Ethical Principles in the Plastic Surgery Literature," which shows that only 110 of the more than 100,000 plastic surgery articles clearly focus on ethical principles. The four fundamental ethical principles (i.e., respect for autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice) were differentially emphasized, with respect for autonomy being most common. Despite the number of ethical issues faced by plastic surgeons, this systematic review found that a relatively small fraction of the plastic surgery literature has focused on ethical principles. Here, we highlight the importance of this analysis and discuss how its findings might be extrapolated from plastic surgery ethics to surgical ethics writ large.

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