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April 19, 2004

Forswearing Hippocrates

When it comes to some doctors, the Hippocratic Oath just ain't what it used to be.

In a straw poll taken at his presentation, a majority of attendees at the session said they hadn't and still wouldn't accept a smallpox vaccination. A study published that fall in the journal Health Affairs found that only 33 percent of doctors would treat smallpox without having themselves been vaccinated; and just 55 percent of the doctors surveyed agreed that physicians have an obligation to care for patients even if it might endanger their own health. The report's authors, Dr. Matthew Wynia and Dr. Caleb Alexander, both of the University of Chicago, noted, ''The threat of new disease outbreaks, from bioterrorism or natural causes, has provided an opportunity for physicians to rearticulate and reaffirm longstanding ethical principles regarding the duty to treat.'' It remainsunclear whether doctors will seize that opportunity or hide from it.

Monkeypox only has a 10% fatality rate. Given the evident reluctance of many of the health care workers described in the article when it came to treating a child suffering from that disease, what happens if the U.S. experiences at outbreak of something even deadlier?

Posted by Bigwig at April 19, 2004 10:01 AM | TrackBack
Postscript:
First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself.
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