A recent survey about physicians bioethics position (Medscape Ethics Report 2014, Part 1: Life, Death, and Pain. December 16, 2014.) features the opinions of American and European physicians on the ethical criteria that should be applied in certain difficult situations that present in clinical practice. A total of 21,531 physicians from more than 25 specialities were surveyed from September to November 2014.
We shall discuss, by way of summary, some of the most significant findings of that survey.
With respect to assisted suicide, more doctors are in favour of this practice today compared to four years ago, rising from 46% in 2010 to 54% in 2014, with more European than American physicians in favour of it (13% more). Among the European countries included in the study, Spain is the only county in which there are more doctors against (48%) than in favour of this practice (36%). In the remaining countries analysed (Germany, United Kingdom, Italy and France), the percentage of physicians in favour exceeds those who oppose assisted suicide.
New borns with few survival prospect
Another question analysed was whether intensive care should be provided to newborns with very few survival prospects or who may suffer serious consequences: 31 % of doctors believe that intensive care should be administered, compared to 27 % who believe that intensive care should not be applied if the life expectancy is low or the patient will be left with severe limitations. The remaining 43% said it depended on other factors. In other words, more than one quarter of physicians, according to the survey, would stop treating a baby if it was expected that they were going to have a “terrible quality of life” (as they literally state in the study) in the future.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.