Code of Ethics

Approved by the Membership February 11, 2006


Members of the Society of Pediatric Pathology ("SPP") are expected to abide by the codes of ethics that pertain to the medical profession in general, as well as to adhere to all local and national laws and regulations that govern the practice of medicine. We hold such standards as being self-evident. In addition to these there are specific areas that require vigilant attention:

  1. Use of SPP for personal financial gain.
  2. Presentation and publication of scientific information (research and scientific fraud).
  3. Expert medico-legal testimony.
  4. Policy Notification, And Investigation
  5. Composition Of The AD-Hoc Ethics Committee
  6. Procedure For An Investigation

Use of SPP for personal financial gain.

  1. Members shall not use the SPP, its resources, journals, Website, bulletin boards or meetings to promote any activity from which they will derive personal financial gain. This includes the promotion of books, conferences, seminars, laboratory services, consultation or other goods and services. Members who want to formally advertise these activities will be charged at regular market advertising rates, depending on the medium employed. These 'advertisements' shall not be a part of, or included within, any other professional activities conducted under the auspices of the SPP.
  2.  Any financial conflict of interest must be fully disclosed in a presentation, poster or publication.
  3.  The SPP logo and imprimatur shall not be used in association with any activity, unless SPP Council gives express, prior written permission.
  4.  A portion of the web site may be made available for members to report their recent book publications or other professional activities with links to the commercial site that offers their purchase. However these will be time-limited and will not carry any Society endorsement. Such announcements shall follow the web-site guidelines and the SPP by-laws that are in effect at the time the announcements are published.

Presentation and Publication of Scientific Information.

  1. These standards shall apply to all SPP venues (journals, meetings etc) as well as all public forums for the sharing and dissemination of scientific information.
  2. Scientific fraud, plagiarism, duplicate publication of data, falsification of information, and the distortion or suppression of data constitutes serious professional misconduct. 
  3. Co-authors are expected to have full knowledge of the entire content of the publication and the research and must attest to such in writing and by signature. 
  4. Members are expected to acknowledge the participation of all individuals involved in a publication. This includes the clinicians who had primary responsibility for the patients or other institutions that may have contributed to the research. 
  5. The Board of Editors of the SPP journal (Pediatric and Developmental Pathology) may establish specific rules and guidelines for the ethical publication of scientific information. All members are expected to abide by these standards.

Expert Medical Testimony

The SPP encourages its members to participate fully in the judicial system to ensure that the best possible scientific information be available to courts and jurors for their deliberations. The following standards and guidelines apply to a member who serves as either a testifying or a consulting (non-testifying) expert:

  1. When possible, experts should use objective, peer-reviewed scientific studies to validate their opinions and not be selective in the studies they elect to present.
  2. Experts are encouraged to use a rigorous evidence-based approach for the presentation of their opinion.
  3. The expert witness should be willing to state that there may be no way to prove or disprove something. When scientific evidence is lacking, experts should clearly state that fact and affirm that they are providing an opinion, not proof.
  4. Experts should have significant familiarity with the issues of the case.
  5. The expert witness cannot champion a position, a cause or either the plaintiff or the defendant, but must be dedicated to pursuing the truth, as he or she perceives it.
  6. Experts shall not accept a contingency fee for their services.
  7. Experts must clearly distinguish between overt negligence and an unfortunate or untoward medical outcome. The latter may be the result of known complications that can occur in the setting of medical uncertainty.
  8. Experts must be aware of the general standards of practice at the time of the alleged occurrence. They must clearly distinguish between the 'general community standard of practice' and 'expert or optimal practice.
  9. Members are reminded that transcripts of depositions and courtroom testimony are public records and subject to independent peer review. This may be performed by any organization granting licensure or credentials. In addition failure to provide truthful testimony also carries the potential for civil suits of negligence, criminal prosecution for perjury and possible loss of professional license to practice medicine, depending on local institutional and state regulation and laws.

Policy Notification, And Investigation

  1. A copy of the Code of Ethics shall be mailed to all new members, together with a copy of the by-laws.
  2. The web site will maintain an updated copy of the Code of Ethics.
  3. Adherence to the Code of Ethics is a condition of membership in the Society for Pediatric Pathology.
  4. Any member in good standing may report a possible ethical violation to the Council of the SPP.
  5. The Executive committee of the SPP may constitute an ad-hoc Ethics Committee to consider a report of possible ethical violations and submit a recommendation to the Executive Committee of the SPP Council for final disposition.

Composition Of The AD-Hoc Ethics Committee

The size and composition of the ad-hoc ethics committee shall be by determined by the Executive Committee. Care will be exercised to ensure that no member of the committee has a conflict of interest and the committee will not include any member from the same institution or market region as the individual involved in the hearing.

Procedure For An Investigation

  1. The Chair will contact the member at the outset to inform that person of the receipt of a report of a possible breach of the code of ethics, review the standards and invite the member to explain, change or modify their behavior. 
  2. All deliberations will be maintained in strict confidence.
  3. The member whose conduct is being reviewed shall be invited to meet with the ad-hoc Ethics Committee in order to present explanations and justifications for the particular conduct under review. All proceedings will follow standard due-process and the member may be accompanied by counsel, legal or other, if requested. The member has the right to appeal any decision of the ad-hoc Ethics Committee to the entire SPP Council for review.