Over 10,000 physicians responded to the
"What came through loud and clear through this survey is that by and large, doctors try to do what they believe is right," said Dr.
Medscape will publish a special series about medical ethics on its website that will feature some of the nation's leading bioethics experts weighing in on why doctors answered the way that they did, and what this means for the future of medicine.
"Today's doctors face more frequent and more complex bioethical dilemmas than in former times," said
Murray continued, "If a physician recognizes that he or she is having a tough ethical dilemma, it shows that this is a morally conscious individual trying to do the right thing."
The following is a subset of the survey findings. An additional 16 questions dealing with other crucial physician ethical dilemmas and the special series can be found at www.medscape.com.
End of Life Care
When asked whether physician-assisted suicide be allowed in some cases — results were mixed with 45.8% of respondents answering "yes"; 40.7% said "no"; and the other 13.5% said "it depends."
Liability and Medical Error Issues:
The majority of doctors 60.1% answered "no" when asked if it was acceptable to cover up or avoid revealing a mistake if that mistake would not cause harm to the patient, 19% of respondents said "yes" it was acceptable, and the remaining 20.9% said it "depends."
Patient Treatment Issues
When asked whether they would hide information from a patient about a terminal or preterminal diagnosis in an effort to bolster their spirit or attitude — 59.8% of physicians would tell it exactly like they see it; 14.6% admitted they would soften it and give hope even if there's little chance; 1.7% wouldn't tell a patient how bad it was — unless they were going to die immediately; and the other 23.8% said it would depend.
Other Ethical Issues:
On the subject of whether buying organs for transplant should be legal for people if they would not be able to receive an organ by waiting their turn through the national database — nearly 20% of doctors said "yes", but the majority (66.5%) said "no." The remaining 13.6% said "it depends."
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