Responsibilities of a Professional: Choice or No Choice
In order to realize his personal responsibilities as both a husband and a father, Dr. Green regretfully had to turn aside his professional obligations leaving his patients without their physician and a pandemic looming on the horizon. A killer flu was en route to Kansas…
The above excerpt is from a brief but telling story by James E. Kelley published in the December 2007 issue of Virtual Mentor about choices and professional duties.
Please read the story and come back and write us your impression of this professional dilemma. How can and how should a physician balance his responsibilities to himself and his family with the responsibilities he has taken on with his patients? Do you think the balance is any different if the physician is a woman? Let us know what you think. ..Maurice.
ADDENDUM 3-29-2008: A recent article [full article may require subscription] in the March 26,2008 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association titled "Potential Penalties for Health Care Pofessionals Who Refuse to Work During a Pandemic" by Coleman and Reis seems to cover the very issue brought up in this thread but specifically with regard to punishment. Here is a brief extract of the article: "The severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic and the spread of avian influenza have generated renewed interest in health care professionals' (HCPs’) obligations to work during a pandemic. However, most discussions of this issue have occurred on a relatively abstract level of ethical analysis, with less attention to what should actually happen to HCPs who are unwilling to work. Should HCPs who refuse to work be fired from their jobs? Should they lose their licenses? Should they go to jail?"