Solo Doctors and Ethical Isolation
Journal of Medical Ethics 2009 November; 35(11): 692-695
This paper uses the case of solo doctors to explore whether working in relative isolation from one's peers may be detrimental to ethical decision-making. Drawing upon the relevance of communication and interaction for ethical decision-making in the ethical theories of Habermas, Mead and Gadamer, it is argued that doctors benefit from ethical discussion with their peers and that solo practice may make this more difficult. The paper identifies a paucity of empirical research related to solo practice and ethics but draws upon more general medical ethics research and a study that identified ethical isolation among community pharmacists to support the theoretical claims made. The paper concludes by using the literary analogy of Soderberg's Doctor Glas to illustrate the issues raised and how ethical decision-making in relative isolation may be problematical.
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