Our group has been very productive over the last few weeks. We have finished a substantial amount of research on the eight different topics that we selected to discuss. I’ve been currently filling up gaps on certain topics that we decided needed more information. My teammates, Dennis and Carina have been focusing on citing our sources and editing all of our content.
The topic that I’ve focused on recently is on truth telling. What interested me the most about this theme was the history of the relationship between doctors and patients and how the disclosure of truth played different roles throughout time. I was quite shocked when I learned that the concept of telling the entire truth to patients was not practiced very much by doctors until recently. I had never analyzed the relationship that doctors engage with their patients. I had just assumed that all doctors would disclose all information concerning a patient’s health. Reflecting on this, I realized that because of the advancement of technology and the rise of valuing individuality which stems from the spread of democracy, people have come to value knowing more about their health. Diseases are no longer an unknown or abstract concept. People know have the ability to understand and to become informed about what is going on with their health. Currently, according to a report from the UCSF School of Medicine, 94% of patients want to know what is troubling their health. Before the 1900s many people would completely trust their doctors, and if they proposed evasive surgeries, they would usually accept this proposition. However, there are still a few exceptions to this rule. Doctors can withdraw from stating some information about a patient’s health if they believe that it is not in the best interest of their patient. This is called the “therapeutic privilege”. Although I understand the reason why doctors commit to this, I still believe that it can easily be thwarted since doctors may not know their patient very well. Telling their families is a good way to partly solve this dilemma, but you may never know what the patient really wants.
A famous court case was when the judges favored to uphold truth telling instead of the doctor’s defense of “therapeutic privilege”, was in Meyers Estate et al v. Rogers. (1991). A woman in her late thirties died when undergoing an intravenous injection for a radiologic screening. The doctor had not disclosed the entire side effects of the procedure. Since this mistake was grave, the judges sided with the patient, and the physician was convicted for not stating the entire truth. There have been similar incidences which have affected the lives of thousands of patients. Although in the past many courts preferred to uphold the voice of the “expert” physician, I am glad that recently more rights have been given to the patient. I find that this is extremely important since you trust a doctor with your entire life.
Other interesting discoveries throughout my research center on euthanasia. This is a topic that I have my own opinion about, however it is interesting to note all the arguments for both sides. In the court case of Diane Pretty, I could not fathom how she asked her husband to end her suffering by terminating her life. Although the judges came to the conclusion that mercy killings are illegal and assisted deaths are illegal, Diane Pretty endured a lot of suffering to the end of her days. This is quite a controversial issue, yet if doctors have the power to end lives they may just create more harm than good.
Overall, I understand how our medical society decided that a set of regulations and duties of physicians must be addressed as well as the rights of a patient. Thus, organizations like the AMA established the principles of medical ethics. Doctors have committed themselves to submit and abide by a Hippocratic Oath to do everything in their power, in an ethical manner, to help a patient. The Geneva conventions also originated in order to address the rights of not only injured soldiers, but also everyone else. These documents are essential for maintaining an ethical environment within the medical workplace. The courts have also increased awareness of all ethical issues in these recent times. As a society, it is crucial that we come into a consensus in order to uphold what is right from wrong in the medical field.
We are almost to the end of our research. Our group is excited about working on the actual Ebook program. Carina has already explored with many functions of the IAuthor program, and we are excited about our end result.