Background: The knowledge of medical ethics is essential for health care practitioners worldwide. The main objective of this study was to evaluate the knowledge of medical doctors in a tertiary care hospital in Nigeria in the area of medical ethics.
Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional questionnaire-based study involving 250 medical doctors of different levels was carried out. The questionnaire, apart from the bio-data, also sought information on undergraduate and postgraduate training in medical ethics, knowledge about the principles of biomedical ethics and the ethical dilemmas encountered in daily medical practice.
Results: One hundred and ninety (190) respondents returned the filled questionnaire representing a response rate of 76%. One hundred and fifty-two respondents (80%) have had some sort of medical ethics education during their undergraduate level in the medical education. The median duration of formal training or exposure to medical ethics education was 3.00 hours (range: 0-15). One hundred and twenty-nine respondents have read at least once the code of medical ethics of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria while 127 (66.8%) have some general knowledge of the principles of biomedical ethics. The breakdown of the identified ethical dilemmas shows that discharge against medical advice was the most identified by the respondents (69.3%) followed by religious/cultural issues (56.6%) while confidentiality was recognized by 53.4%.
Conclusion: The knowledge of medical ethics by Nigerian medical doctors is grossly inadequate. There is an urgent need for enhancement of the teaching of the discipline at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels in Nigeria.