Being 'One Cog in a Bigger Machine': A Qualitative Study Investigating Ethical Challenges Perceived by Junior Doctors
Clinical Ethics 2009 June; 4(2): 85-90
There is increasing recognition among bioethicists that health-care practitioners' everyday ethical challenges ought to be the focus of ethical analysis. Interviews were conducted with Australian junior doctors to identify some of the kinds of situations that they found ethically challenging, as a basis for this type of grounded philosophical analysis and for further empirical research into junior doctors' ethical issues. Fourteen doctors in their first to fourth year of work from six hospitals in Melbourne participated. Issues discussed included involvement in treatment perceived as inappropriate, seniors discouraging disclosure of errors, coping when requested help was not forthcoming, observing behaviour perceived as unethical, truth-telling and informed consent. The difficulties described often focused on interactions with colleagues and position in the health-care team. Although the results cannot be generalized to junior doctors as a population, these junior doctors' stories point to various issues warranting further investigation, both philosophical and empirical.
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