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Revised: ISBT Code of Ethics

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Bodine van Wingerden

ISBT is pleased to announce the revision of the ISBT Code of Ethics; one of the Societies most important documents.

In December 2013 the ISBT Board endorsed a recommendation to revise the Code. The Standing committee on Ethics chaired by Dr Peter Flanagan has worked since 2014 to review and revise the old Code. ISBT members were given opportunities to comment during the review process. The new version of the Code was accepted by the ISBT membership on June 20, 2017 during the General Assembly at the 27th congress of the ISBT in Copenhagen.

ISBT considers that the new code keeps the same philosophy as the old code but the new code is more useable, meaningful and appropriate. The new Code of Ethics has been translated into six different languages for the convenience of our international members. Please find an English, French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, and Arabic version of the Code of Ethics on the ISBT website.

The most important changes made to the Code of Ethics are;

  • To lengthen the code to include an introductory paragraph to set the scene and construct the specific principles that constitute the code.
  • The introduction of a stewardship section which contains a series of statements which are mainly directed at health authorities and policy makers who set overall standards for blood service provision. The concept of stewardship is based on concepts identified in the Nuffield Council on Bioethics report on ‘Human bodies: Donation for medicine and research.
  • Individual statements aligned to a series of ethical principles. This aims to provide clarity on why the principles are important. A series of footnotes are provided to give information on the source underpinning the statements.
  • The use of the terms ‘must’ and ‘should’ to identify a statement as mandatory or as an objective, were carefully reviewed and considered. The term must identifies something as mandatory.
  • Relocation of certain principles, for example the principle that blood is a public resource and that access should not be restricted is now positioned in the Stewardship section of the code.

For any queries about the new Code of Ethics please contact ISBT Central Office.