The devil is in the detail: best practice or catholic practice?

17 May 2016

Rendell and colleagues state an honorable mission – “to safeguard the rights of research subjects in Catholic institutions” (Rendell, Casey et al. 2012). However we think a close inspection of their paper reveals a concern not with the rights of research subjects, but with the rights of Catholic health providers. If ‘Catholic moral teaching’ is ‘respected’ as a matter of policy in Catholic medical institutions, far from safeguarding the rights of subjects, it has the potential to deny patients options and to deny them the best possible medical care - regardless of the moral beliefs of the individuals. We illustrate these points by referring to developments at the Calvary Mater Newcastle, a publicly funded oncology hospital in regional New South Wales, Australia, that has come into conflict with local researchers and oncologists over the conduct of oncology trials (Robotham 2011).