June 2004 
Volume 34  Number 6
Pages 67 - 67
  PDF Version Available!

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc. Volume 34(6)             June 2004             p 67 Scare tactics [ETHICAL PROBLEMS: SELF-DESTRUCTIVE PATIENT]


A certain patient with chronic alcoholism—I'll call him Gus—is well known to nurses and physicians in this hospital because he's frequently admitted with complications of alcoholism. Yesterday he was admitted to treat another gastrointestinal bleed. This time, the physician decided to “teach Gus a lesson” by telling him he's no longer a surgical candidate. Privately, the physician told the nurses that he'd perform surgery in a few days, when Gus's condition is more stable. In the meantime, though, he's hoping Gus will be scared enough to “see the light” and agree to get help for his drinking problem.

I think this physician means well, but his deception seems ...

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