School Closings Alert

Doctor Ethics Survey: What Would Your MD Do?

Set Text Size SmallSet Text Size MediumSet Text Size LargeSet Text Size X-Large
Share
Updated: 7/18/2013 9:19 pm

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.

Lying to Insurance Companies

To make sure your insurance company covers your treatment, would your doctor exaggerate the severity of your condition -- or even lie about it?

Only 13% of doctors say they would, while another 12% said it would depend on the situation. An overwhelming 75% of doctors said they won't do it.

Dropping Patients Over Insurance

Would your longtime doctor stop accepting your insurance if your insurer didn't pay well enough?

Only 41% of doctors said they would not, while 27% said they would, and 32% said, "It depends."

End-of-Life Treatment

Would your doctor give you treatments to keep you alive, even if such treatments had no chance of saving your life? Yes: 35%. No: 24%. It depends: 41%.

If your family said to end treatment, would your doctor keep on treating you if he or she thought you had a chance to recover? Yes: 23%. No: 32%. It depends: 42%.

Abortion

Would doctors perform abortions "in certain situations" if it went against their personal beliefs? Most doctors (51%) said they would. But 36% said they would not, and 13% said it depends on the situation.

Treating Pain vs. Avoiding Addiction

Would your doctor undertreat your pain for fear you might become addicted to pain drugs?

Only 15% of doctors would go that far. Nearly two-thirds (65%) never would undertreat pain for that reason, while 20% said it depends on the situation.

Free Lunch

If a pharmaceutical company sales representative took your doctor to lunch, could your doctor remain unbiased in his or her prescribing habits? 

Yes, 72% of doctors said. But 20% said they could not claim to remain unbiased, and 8% said it depends on the situation.

Share
0 Comment(s)
Comments: Show | Hide

Here are the most recent story comments.View All

The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of FOX23 News.

No comments yet!

The Health News section does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See additional information.

Inergize Digital This site is hosted and managed by Inergize Digital.
Mobile advertising for this site is available on Local Ad Buy.