Medical ethics is woven into the Whistleblower blog. I have presented vignettes exposing ethical controversies in the medical profession. I have pointed out scenarios when patients test the steeliness of our ethical scaffolding. I have admitted when my own ethics can be fairly challenged. Indeed, this blog does not take a ‘holier than thou’ posture, though at times I have been accused of this. I have directed as much criticism at myself as I do elsewhere.
Recently, I received a request to assist someone whom I was told was in dire need of a physician’s assistance. While I am a physician who has taken an oath to heal and comfort, in this case I turned away from a person in need. I present the anecdote not because it will stimulate a discussion of the competing ethical angles of the case. Indeed, the case has no angles and no reader will challenge my decision. I present it as an example of an outrageous and improper request that was made to a doctor. Indeed, while I have received numerous improper requests from patients over the past two decades, which I routinely declined, this request was the ‘mother of all ethical outrages’.
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This case poses no ethical quandary for any physician.
The woman who called me is a wonderful and caring person. I wanted to offer some counsel beyond a rebuke of her request, and I did so.
I am interested in what advice readers would have offered, as well as potential explanations for the niece’s anxiety. Once a discussion has hopefully developed, I will share the advice I rendered, and will look forward to readers’ response to it. I always welcome criticism because I am holier than no one.