November 30, 2011

TEN YEARS AGO ON INSTAPUNDIT: Bioethicists’ built-in conflict of interest.

UPDATE: Reader Craig Mason emails:

Regarding your re-post of your “Bioethicists’ built-in conflict of interest” story, years ago as part of my training to be a clinical psychologist, I attended a lecture by a bioethicist. He presented data from a study he did in which a hypothetical “patient”, his/her spouse, and his/her doctor, were each presented with increasingly dire end-of-life medical situations faced by the “patient”. Each was asked when the patient would want to have care terminated. He found that the doctor was consistently the first one to pull the plug, the spouse was the second one, and the “patient” would be the last one to say to pull the plug.

Without missing a beat, the bioethicist went on to conclude that this demonstrated why such decisions should be left to doctors because it shows how patients can’t make the right decision.

I have been skeptical of that field ever since.

I remember talking with a bioethicist about how he pulled the plug on his father. I’m not saying it was the wrong decision, but he seemed a bit too proud of it.