A question of conscience. Physicians in defense of human rights

JAMA. 1986 May;255(20):2794-7. doi: 10.1001/jama.255.20.2794.


KIE: The vital role physicians can play in documenting physical and mental abuse of political prisoners, treating and rehabilitating victims, and preventing the punitive use of medicine is exemplified by the actions of three physicians whose stories are told here. Wendy Orr, a South African prison physician, took her complaint about police torture of political detainees to court after her superiors ignored her reports of prisoner abuse. An internationally known Chilean surgeon, Pedro Castillo, has been arrested twice for his work against the human rights violations of his country's military government. Soviet psychiatrist Anatoly Koryagin is reported to be near death after several years' imprisonment for his activities against involuntary psychiatric commitment of dissidents. Nightingale and Stover remind physicians of their obligation to protest the misuse of medical skills and urge support for professional organizations actively engaged in human rights issues.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chile
  • Dissent and Disputes*
  • Group Processes*
  • History, 20th Century
  • Human Rights*
  • Internationality*
  • Physician's Role*
  • Professional Misconduct
  • Role*
  • Social Responsibility*
  • South Africa
  • Torture*
  • USSR

Personal name as subject

  • W Orr
  • P Castillo
  • A Koryagin