Skip to content

    Health Care Reform:

    Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

    WebMD Health News

    Doctor Ethics Survey: What Would Your MD Do?

    Nov. 19, 2012 -- What would your doctor do in a tricky ethical situation?

    Medscape, WebMD's physician web site, recently surveyed 24,000 doctors to find out. They asked doctors how they'd handle a wide range of ethical dilemmas, including sex with patients, assisted suicide, abortion, end-of-life care, and dealing with terminal illness.

    Some of their answers may surprise you. Here's what Medscape heard from doctors in a wide range of medical specialties:

    Lying to Patients

    If a patient wants a treatment that his or her doctor believes isn't needed, would the doctor ever prescribe a fake treatment? Yes: 34%. No: 48%. It depends: 18%.

    If it would "bolster their spirit," would doctors not tell patients about a fatal illness? One in 10 doctors (10%) said they would, while 18% said it depends on the situation. Most doctors (72%) said they always tell it like it is.

    Should doctors always admit making mistakes, even if the mistake caused no harm? Most doctors (63%) said they'd come clean. But 16% said they'd cover up their error, and 21% said, "It depends."

    Assisted Suicide

    When asked if physician-assisted suicide should be allowed in some situations, 47% of doctors said "yes," 40% said "no," and 13% said, "It depends."

    Defensive Medicine

    Would your doctor perform an unnecessary operation or other procedure just because not doing it might result in a malpractice lawsuit?

    A whopping 23% of doctors said they would. Just over half (55%) said they would not, but 22% said, "It depends."

    Intensive Care for Dying Newborns

    This is possibly the hardest question in the survey: Is it right to provide intensive care to a newborn who will either die soon or survive but have an objectively terrible quality of life? Yes: 34%. No: 27%. It depends: 39%.

    Sex With Patients

    Is it ever OK for a doctor to have sex with a patient?

    Only 1% of doctors think so, if the person is still a patient. Another 22% think it's OK if they wait until six months after the person stops being a patient. And 9% say, "It depends." The other 68% say it's never OK.

    Today on WebMD

    stethoscope on person's chest
    Your Marketplace choices,
    doctor
    How not to waste money on health care.
     
    man in cafe looking at computer
    Finding low-cost health insurance.
    doctor showing girl a stethoscope
    Get the facts on health insurance.
     

    Latest Health Reform News

    Loading …
    URAC: Accredited Health Web Site TRUSTe Privacy Certification HONcode Seal AdChoices