Author Archive: Maurice Bernstein
The use of bionic eyes
The following original article which I wrote and was published today at the bioethics.net website is reproduced here with permission. ..Maurice
Many times in clinical ethics, we find that all of the stakeholders of an issue have meritorious reasons to base their suggested actions. There also may be a meeting of an ethical principle for each action so that there is no strictly unethical violation. The problem arises when one action is inconsistent with another action and we have to decide which act and its ethics trumps another. But trumping may mean that some stakeholders may lose. Therefore, those of us who perform the responsibilities of the hospital ethics committee must remember that we are dealing with good people who have good reasons and perhaps their intended actions are not even that bad except in light of the context of the issue.
Maurice Bernstein, MD
What is ethical or not is often in the eye of the beholder. That is why often the ethics of decisions or acts that we deal with in medicine is established through the process of consensus. And I don’t necessarily mean consensus by only scholars, lawyers or ethicists or even physicians. I think in ethical consensus the many voices of society should be included. I think that an understanding of reason for the divergent views that may occur in ethical analysis can be expressed by what Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine has said in the past.…
Within the May 10 2013 issue of the New York Times comes the following concern from a physician:
I am a physician. Years ago, I saw a young patient with headaches, who disclosed — reluctantly — that he had committed a serious crime and that somebody else took the fall for it. I believe he was telling me the truth (his headaches soon resolved after the confession). Before his admission, I assured him that whatever he told me would not leave the room. Later, without giving specifics, I consulted our hospital lawyer, who told me that we were under no obligation to report the incident, because the patient wasn’t in danger of hurting himself or others. But the future of an innocent man hinges on two people’s consciences, my patient’s and my own. I feel like a coward, hiding behind the Hippocratic oath, doing nothing. NAME WITHHELD
Well, if you were going to give advice to this physician..what would you say? If the doctor had initially given the patient assurance of confidentiality, should that promise be kept under any circumstance that arose in further communication? What is your opinion? ..Maurice.
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