As a dominant cultural tradition in China, Confucianism has greatly inf luenced the Chinese medical ethics. From the view point of Confucian ethics, medicine is the“ art of benevolence” (renshu ). For a Confucian, Confucianism and medicine share the same principle. The concept of patients-first is deeply rooted in the Confucian ethical system in which the“ virtue of a doctor” (yide ) is a primary concern in medical professionalism. This paper f irst discusses the major three principles of professionalism presented by“ The Declaration of Medical Professionalism in the New Century,” and attempts to deal with the limitations of the Declaration by introducing Confucianism with respect to healthcare professionals and a doctor-patient relationship.
The paper explains that the Confucian principle of care for others determines that Confucians take human relationship very seriously in their dealing with the health issue, since they understand that a person’s health is deeply affected by, and in turn affects, other people. Therefore, the rule of individual autonomy as well as individual right emphasized in the West should not be taken as the only legitimate one in dealing with medical issues. More importantly, that the Confucian physician considers medical practice as benevolent action and thus it is more than medical professionalism.