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Doctors Answer Tough Ethical Questions

In Ethical Dilemma, What Would Your Doctor Do? Frank Answers From Real MDs

Is it ever acceptable to break patient confidentiality if you know that a patient's health status may be harming others?


  • Yes, 53.2%
  • No, 20.2%
  • It depends, 26.6%

Doctors said:

  • "As per Mr. Spock, 'The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one.' This applies in highly specific circumstances, however, and would be the exception, not the rule."
  • "Owing to ethics and HIPAA, I don't believe that it should or can be done. I would certainly attempt to convince the patient to disclose the information to his or her spouse or partner."


Would you agree that you should refuse gifts or perks from pharmaceutical companies because they may influence your medical judgment?


  • Yes, 46.8%
  • No, 36.8%
  • It depends, 16.4%

Doctors said:

  • "If by 'gifts' you mean items of value (e.g., expensive pens or outings) then my answer is yes."
  • "I am not so shallow that I can be bought off by a slice of pizza."


Should it be legal for people to buy organs for transplant, if they would not be able to receive an organ by waiting their turn through the national database?


  • Yes, 19.9%
  • No, 66.5%
  • It depends, 13.6%

Doctors said:

  • "The ability to pay determines a lot of accessibility to medical care. I'm not sure why organ transplants are different."
  • "The sale of human body parts is immoral."


Would you perform an abortion in certain situations, even if it were against your own beliefs?


  • Yes, 34.1%
  • No, 53.5%
  • It depends, 12.4%

Doctors said:

  • "If I were against it, I would not perform it; there is something called integrity, you know."
  • "It's about the patient, not about me."


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