Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Ethical Scenarios #1

Hey guys,

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a fellow blogger who is also a medical student and blogs over at Stethoscopes,bows and all things inbetween. She wants to bring together a group of medical students/ medicine applicants who are interested in looking at some ethical scenarios. This would be a great way to prepare for interviews, exams and also to get to know fellow bloggers or just for a general learning experience for those who are not medical students or medicine applicants. From what I understand, a scenario will be given and each person will make a blog post giving their thoughts and then someone will maybe set the next scenario to be reviewed and we will all have a go and so forth.

First scenario:

"As a medical student, you a shadowing a doctor who only speaks English. A mother and daughter have come for a consultation, but the mother does not speak English, so the daughter is acting as the translator. You are able to speak the same language as the mother and daughter (let's say French).

The doctor has told the daughter to tell her mother, that "the treatment is no longer working, and that there is nothing more the doctors can do, but there are drugs that can make her more comfortable"

Because you speak the same language, you know the daughter told her mother "the doctor said that everything is going well, but the doctor wants to try stronger medicines, that will make you get ill, but then you will get better"

What will you do next? Why would you do this?

My thoughts;

"Before deciding on what exactly to do, I think there are a couple of things that need to be taken into consideration.

  1. Well first of all, the mother is not able to understand English and so has no idea what the doctor is telling her. The only way the information can be channeled across is by speaking French. 
  2. The mother trusts her daughter and is relying on her to tell her the correct information from the doctor.
  3. It is very important that the mother gets the right information because she has the right to know in order to be able to make an informed decision.
  4. The medical student understands the language and knows that the daughter has not actually told her mother what the doctor said. The mother needs to know that she is dying but will now believe that the medicines will make her ill and then she will get better which will most likely not be the case.
Maybe the daughter thinks that telling her mother she is going to die will cause her to become distressed but she is an adult and I personally think that it is unfair to let her believe something else. Taking all these into consideration as the medical student, I will ask to speak to the doctor privately after the meeting and explain to him that I speak the same language and that I don't think the daughter told her mother exactly what she was told. I would suggest the doctor speaks to the daughter in the absence of her mother to try and encourage her to make sure she tells her mother exactly what is going on as she has the right to know. 

The daughter can either agree and tell her mother the truth or still refuse to do it. In that case, I think it would be best to get in a professional translator to tell her mother the right information in the future although I don't know how well that will go down with the daughter.

What does everyone else think?
Please feel free to join in or comment below what you think about this scenario.
Thanks for reading.