Mr Madan Hamal
December 7, 2010
Medical ethics and dilemmas
The parents of Charlotte Wyatt, who is seriously ill after being born prematurely, want doctors to keep treating her. But having already resuscitated Charlotte three times after she stopped breathing, staff at the Portsmouth hospital where she is being cared for say she should be allowed to die if her breathing stops again. The case is now being decided in the High Court. Or, the case of the Maltese conjoined twins Rosie and Gracie, who shared a heart. In that case, doctors argued Gracie would benefit from the operation to separate her from her sister because her heart was keeping both girls alive, and it could not bear the strain. But the operation would result in certain death for Rosie. Their parents had argued against the procedure, saying doctors were playing God. In 2001, judges decided the operation should go ahead. Rosie died but Gracie survived and went back to Malta with her parents. What is the correct decision in such medical cases? Though doctors can refuse to treat a patient if they feel it is in the person's best interests but is it always right? These are hugely difficult decisions for doctors and, of course, for families. These are some of the ethical questions of medicine that lead to grave dilemmas.
The term medical ethics can be defined as the “moral values and judgments as they apply to medicine.” Medical ethics are those guidelines under which a doctor shall practice medicine. Violation of medical ethics by any licensed practitioner can lead to legal prosecution. Although, “healing should be the sole purpose of medicine”, but this cannot be always be true in practical life. In practice, however, many treatments carry some risk of harm. In some circumstances, e.g. in desperate situations where the outcome without treatment will be grave, risky treatments that stand a high chance of harming the patient will be justified, as the risk of not...