Doctors and human rights: many issues
Your editorial on the medical profession and human rights took a narrow view of the question of medical ethics. It tended to stress instances in which a doctor has abutted or been a party to human rights violations. It missed certain other ethical issues which deserve mention.
Euthanasia or mercy killing has long been the punching bag of ethicologists. The question of playing God to alleviate a patient’s suffering continues to spark off debate. The ethics involved in letting a seriously injured ‘medico-legal case’ lie in the hospital’s casualty department till police formalities are completed needs a rethink. Is it ethical to allow legal interference in patient care?
No debate on medical ethics can be complete without a mention of prenatal gender determination. While some believe that reporting of foetal sex is unethical on the grounds that it promotes foeticide, others lay great store by the patient’s ‘right to know’, perhaps even ‘to choose’.
The aforementioned instances are commonly encountered by medical professionals. Decisions in their regard should come from the application of common sense and concern for the individual patient, not from formal study of the subject.
Dr Puneet Madhok, 3A Horizon, Pali Hill, Bandra (W). Mumbai 400 030
- Pai, Sanjay. The medical profession and human rights. Issues in Medical Ethics, 1998: (VI) 4: 105