Physicians’ Attitudes Toward Medical Ethics, 2020

An article appearing on Medscape on November 13, 2020 entitled “Ethics 2020 Life, Death, and Painful Dilemmas A Decade of Changes in Physicians’ Attitudes” reported on the results of a survey of 5,130 physicians in the United States from July 25, 2020 to September 10, 2020 about serious ethical dilemmas they deal with in their practice of medicine. The following are the questions along with the responses.

Should Physician-Assisted Dying Be Made Legal for Terminally Ill Patients?

More medical specialists (57%) than primary care physicians (51%) favor legally-assisted dying being made legal. Eight states, as well as the District of Columbia, mandate physician-assisted dying and court decisions in two other states have mandated physician-assisted dying.

Should Physician-Assisted Dying Be Made Legal for Non-Terminally Ill Patients With Incurable Suffering?

37% responded “Yes” in 2020 compared to 27% in 2018. 34% responded “No” in 2020 compared to 45% in 2018.

Would You Undertreat a Patient’s Pain for Fear of Addiction or DEA or Medical Board Scrutiny?

24% of primary care physicians fear the consequences compared to 17% of medical specialists. 18% responded “Yes” in 2020 compared to 6% in 2010. 63% responded “No” in 2020 compared to 84% in 2010.

Is It Right to Speak Out Against Your Hospital or Workplace When They Don’t Give You What You Need?

53% responded “Yes,” 8% responded “No,” and 40% responded “It depends.”

Should You Remove a Patient From Life Support at a Family’s Request, if You Thought the Patient had a Chance to Survive?

18% in 2020 responded “Yes” compared to 16% in 2010. 34% responded “No” in 2020 compared to 55% in 2010.

Would You Provide Life-sustaining Therapy at a Family’s Request, Even if You Considered It Futile?

In 2020, 44% responded “Yes” compared to 24% in 2010. 14% responded “No” in 2020 compared to 37% in 2010.

Would You Report a Colleague Who Seemed Occasionally Impaired by Drugs, Alcohol or Illness?

In 2020, 87% responded “Yes” (28%) or “Yes, but only after speaking to him/her first” (59%). In 2010, 86% responded “Yes.” Only 2% said “No,” in both 2010 and 2020.

Should Terminally Ill Patients be Allowed to Try Any Treatment They Wish?

43% said “Yes”; 23% said “No”; and, 34% said “It depends.”

Should Physicians Be Subject to Random Drug Testing for Alcohol and Drug Abuse?

34% responded “Yes”; 43% responded “No”; and 23% responded “It depends.”

Should Physicians Be Required to Get an Annual Flu Shot? (Non-COVID-19)

72% said “Yes” while 17% said “No.” (In 2019, 84% of Americans said it was extremely or very important that parents get their children vaccinated.)

Should Physicians Be Required to Treat Patients With COVID-19?

47% responded “Yes” while 24% responded “No.” (50% of men and 43% of women responded “Yes”)

Would You Ever Perform a Procedure for ‘Defensive Medicine’ Because of Malpractice Fears?

18% responded “Yes” in 2020 (compared to 16% in 2010), and 63% said “No” (compared to 61% in 2010).

If You Witnessed a Physician Making a Racist Remark, Would You Report Him or Her?

47% said “Yes” and 12% said “No.”

Would You Report a Physician Whom You Witnessed Bullying or Sexually Harassing Another Clinician?

72% said “Yes” and 4% said “No.”

Should a Physician Accused of Sexual Harassment – With No Witness Other Than The Parties Involved – Be Fired or Penalized?

4% said “Yes,” 39% said “No,” 57% said “It depends.”

Could You Be a Paid Speaker at Pharmaceutical Company Dinners or Accept Lunches From Drug Reps Without It Influencing Your Prescribing Habits?

63% said “Yes” and 26% said “No.”

Should You Correct Physicians Posting Misinformation About COVID-19 on Social Media?

50% said “Yes” and 19% said “No.”

Who Should Get a COVID-19 Vaccine First, After Frontline Workers?

55% said older people in nursing or senior living facilities (12% responded first come/first served).

Should There Be an Automatic Assumption of Organ Donation?

34% said “Yes” and 58% said “No.”


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This entry was posted on Monday, November 16th, 2020 at 5:29 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


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