BIOETHICSTV: Chicago Med 3/29

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

BioethicsTV is an occasional bioethics.net feature where we examine bioethical issues raised in televised medical dramas.

Tonight marked the mid-season premiere of Chicago Med, a freshman television show that seems to relish throwing professional and bioethical issues at its audience. This week, viewers saw no fewer than 4 ethical challenges.

1. Blood draws for DUI in the ED. The first story was about a young man who crashes his car into a house. He is brought to the ED and needs immediate surgery for internal bleeding. Before he is brought to the OR, a police officer demands a blood draw because if they wait until after surgery, they won’t be able to prove he was drunk. The surgeon asks the patient if he consents to a draw and the patient says ‘no.” The charge nurse supports her staff and is then arrested for impeding an investigation. The officer says that having a driver’s license is consent and the nurse states that hospital policy requires patient consent. In this brief exchange, the nurse says that the hospital is where they treat patients, not make arrests.

As this show takes place in Chicago, it might be useful to look at the laws in Illinois. Under 725 ILCS 5/11-501.2, blood can be drawn in a secure location for the purpose of testing blood for a blood alcohol level. Someone licensed and trained in this procedure must collect the blood and a police officer must also be present. However, this type of draw requires the suspected person’s consent.

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.