The duty to treat: where do the limits lie?
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Here's an article by the Ethics Committee of the British Medical Association

"The combination of a novel virus, no treatment, and inadequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) is putting frontline health workers at risk of serious harm. The question arises: when does work-based risk become unacceptable?"

"Doctors’ primary duty is to make the care of patients their first concern. It is a duty chosen by those who seek to join the profession. Broadly speaking, doctors sign up both contractually and morally to do so."

• "But are there limits to this duty? How much risk is too much risk?"

"As with many principle-like statements, the obligation to make patient care your first concern requires interpretation. It is, straightforwardly, not a doctor’s only duty. We get no sense that doctors would be unwilling to work if PPE were adequate."

"Doctors are critical to the covid response: if they sicken, so the response is weakened; if they unknowingly become infected, they can infect patients and colleagues. Doctors also have obligations to those close to them: to parents, spouses, partners, children. The primary duty to his patient, here and now, is one part of a web of obligations."

• "So how do we make sense of these entangled obligations?"

"In the absence of proper PPE, moral and legal obligations to protect staff and patients at potential risk of infection, along with duties of reciprocity, are unfulfilled. Without proper equipment it seems to us doctors cannot be duty-bound to expose themselves to potentially mortal risk. Better by far though to invest in a health system which offers appropriate protection, so moral heroism is not required."

Article Author - Dr. Julian Sheather, Ethics manager, BMA & Dr. John Chisholm, Chair of the BMA’s ethics committee.

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and PlexusMD does not necessarily subscribe to it. PlexusMD shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organization directly or indirectly.

S●●●●●N K●●●R and 17 others like this10 shares
Dr. S●●●●●m S●●●●y P●●●●●l
Dr. S●●●●●m S●●●●y P●●●●●l General Medicine
This is an excellent article. A lot of pressure is put on Doctors to work under unacceptable conditions. This article can be quoted to defend one' s soveireign choice for safe work environment.
May 26, 2020Like1