There is a growing belief in the US that medicine is an altruistic profession, and that physicians display altruism in their daily work. We argue that one of the most fundamental features of medical professionalism is a fiduciary responsibility to patients, which implies a duty or obligation to act in patients' best medical interests. The term that best captures this sense of obligation is "beneficence", which contrasts with "altruism" because the latter act is supererogatory and is beyond obligation.
The main purpose of this paper is to clarify some senses of dignity that are particularly relevant for the treatment and care of the elderly. I make a distinction between two quite different ideas of dignity, on the one hand the basic kind of dignity possessed by every human being, and on the other hand the dignity which is the result of a person's merits, whether these be inherited or achieved.
The human person makes great demands on the physician and calls for unique attention. Hence the doctor-patient relationship calls for the highest ideals of kindness, patience, trustworthiness, generosity and skill. The Catholic physician brings to these demands a specific meaning: ministering to the sick is to see Christ in them and to show Him to them.
The author contends that overworking residents cannot be ethically justified. There is evidence that overwork is detrimental both to the resident and to the patient. In addition, the argument that working long hours is essential to maintain medicine's status as a profession is analyzed. The claim cannot be supported by definitions of professionalism. Although Flexner's definition does specify altruism as an essential component, it does not justify long working hours for residents.
CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l'Association medicale canadienne
We conducted a telephone survey of parents in the National Capital Region to assess their intention to donate their child's organs and to provide physicians with information that could help alleviate their concerns about approaching parents for consent. Of 339 parents who agreed to answer questions after being given details of their child's "death" 288 (85%) said that they would be willing to donate their child's organs.
With tens of thousands of waiting recipients but only 4000-5000 organs available annually, there is a chronic and largely insatiable demand for organ transplants. This article draws on three sources of data regarding the sources of organs donated: a survey of the families of organ donors, a survey of the general public, and a prospective data collection effort from organ procurement agencies. It considers which Americans are willing to engage in this kind of altruism.