Thursday, November 17, 2005
Ethics in Neurological Practice: Discerning Appropriate Medical Care in Cases of Severe Brain Injury and Disease
Weiss Center, Rubendall Recital Hall, 12:00 p.m.
Issue in Context
Modern medical science has brought remarkable changes to every individual’s life. Due to advances in medical technology, more people live longer, and more productively, than any generation in history. However, these advances engender ethical dilemmas that no generation of doctors has ever had to face. New life-sustaining techniques and practices are forcing hospitals to pose questions that never needed to be asked before. Foremost of these is the question, “How far do we go to save a life?” In other words, when suffering is immeasurable, and a patient’s condition terminal, should doctors be permitted to end a patient’s life?
Syndromes like persistent vegetative state and the immense suffering caused by prolonged cancers and various debilitating diseases have many people, including some doctors, wondering if it would be more humane for physicians to withdraw treatment in order to hasten death than sustain the lives of those suffering or unconscious. The recent Terri Schiavo case gives relevance to the emerging quandary over life-sustaining treatments.
There is an irrefutable need to discern what is appropriate medical care in cases of severe brain injury and disease. Many new, unfathomable scenarios have arisen with the recent strides in medical practice. Perhaps the next question for doctors and family members should be, “What are the ethical implications of my medical care/decisions?”
About the Speakers
James L. Bernat , M.D.
James L. Bernat, M.D. is a Professor of Medicine (neurology) at Dartmouth Medical School as well as the director of Program in Clinical Ethics at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. His prestigious work has lead to well-known as an ethicist and as the nation’s leading proponent of whole brain death.
â€¢ The Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation
â€¢ Terri Schiavo Case: Legal Issues Involving Healthcare Directives, Death, and Dying
â€¢ End of Life Issues Page on bioethics.net
â€¢ The Center for Practical Bioethics