Medical care in the penal system

The involvement of doctors in police measures is a delicate matter in which ethical boundaries may easily be crossed. The SAMS has elaborated guidelines and statements to provide orientation.

Doctors can be asked to participate in the enforcement of sentences and corrective measures, for example for medical treatment of persons who are in police custody or incarcerated. The SAMS guidelines “Medical practice in respect of detained persons” describe typical situations in which doctors’ loyalties could be divided, for instance when having to provide a legal opinion, treating prisoners who are on hunger strike or assessing whether persons detained pending deportation are able to travel.


Medical practice in respect of detained persons
Medical-ethical guidelines with information on practical application (2002, updated 2012, appendix lit. G supplemented 2015, editorial changes 2017)


Appendix H: Medical management of suspected persons with body packs (2018)
This appendix is an integral part of the SAMS medical-ethical guidelines «Medical practice in respect of detained persons», cf. above.


Coercive measures in medicine (2015)

Chapter 4.6 of the guidelines includes fundamental principles regarding coercive measures for detained persons


Research with human subjects: A manual for practitioners (2015)
The handbook also includes guidelines for research involving imprisoned persons





lic. iur. Michelle Salathé
Head Department Ethics