WebMD Medical News
Daniel J. DeNoon
Michael W. Smith, MD
Nov. 10, 2010 -- Would doctors help patients die if they asked? Would they have sex with a patient? Would they cover up a mistake that harmed a patient?
These are three of 21 tough ethical questions answered by more than 10,000 doctors in a Medscape survey released today. Medscape is WebMD's web site for medical professionals.
"What came through loud and clear in the survey is that by and large, doctors try to do what they believe is right," Steven Zatz, MD, executive vice president for WebMD Professional Services, says in a news release.
What's also clear is that doctors don't all agree on what is right.
For example, when asked if doctor-assisted suicide should ever be allowed, 41% gave a definitive "no" while 59% said "yes" or "it depends."
The survey kicks off Medscape's special series on medical ethics. Leading bioethics experts will weigh in on why the doctors answered the way they did -- and what this means for the future of medicine.
"Today's doctors face more frequent and more complex bioethical dilemmas than in former times," Thomas H. Murray, PhD, says in the news release. Murray is president of The Hastings Center, a bioethical research center in Garrison, N.Y.
The poll sampled doctors from a broad range of medical specialties, including pediatrics, internal medicine, psychiatry, surgery, oncology, women's health, and family medicine.
Below is a sample of the survey results, with some typical -- and conflicting -- comments from doctors who answered the poll. You can see The full survey results here.
SOURCES:Medscape web site: "Survey Results: Physicians' Ethical Dilemmas," previewed Nov. 11, 2010.News release, WebMD.
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