The everyday ethics of medicine and care

Not all of medical ethics is “big ethics”—topics like end of life care, abortion, use of “big data.” Rather, every conversation between clinicians and patients and every care-related decision also have ethical aspects that can affect the quality of care clinicians provide.

In this interview with the Harvard Medical School (HMS) Labcast (click above to hear it), Robert Truog, MD, executive director of Boston Children’s Institute for Professionalism and Ethical Practice and director of HMS’s Center for Bioethics talks about what he calls medical “microethics”: the ethics of everyday medical practice—language choices, the conscious and unconscious biases clinicians bring to every interaction, and how those factors color patients’ and families’ experience of care.

“There are little ethical decisions that are built into almost every interaction [doctors and nurses] have over the course of the day,” he says. “Our work has been around making these clinicians more aware of the choices they’re making…and then to think a litttle bit more deeply about how one choice might be better or worse in a given situation than another.”

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