Retired professor lectures on medical ethics

Workers in the medical field are constantly faced with tough decisions that leave them wrestling with questions of right and wrong, said guest speaker Jane Carney during a March meeting of the Health Professions Club.

Carney spoke on the importance of medical ethics, or moral principals applied to situations in the field of medicine.

A specialist in gerontology and medical ethics, Carney retired from OCCC in 2006 and has been giving this presentation for a few years.

She stressed confidentially, which she defined as any secret, if revealed, that could cause harm to the patient.


She was also very emphatic about “truthfulness,” or communicating with those who deserve to know the truth, which Carney said is very important when dealing with a patient.

She then went over different medical scenarios, before opening the discussion to the audience about the ethics of the events.

One scenario dealt with an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s disease being kept alive by a feeding tube although she was frightened and unaware of her medical condition.

Carney specified the ethics of this scenario by saying that it would be unethical to keep feeding the elderly woman in her confused and frightened state.

Carney also gave the example of a man diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease, who did not want the doctor to alert his wife of his infidelity.

She said the doctor is ethically obligated to test the man’s wife for the disease, both for her own sake and because it had to be reported to the health department.

The scenarios were a big hit with the crowd, opening up much discussion and debate.

In some situations the students even brought up different aspects to the scenarios not addressed initially by Carney.

T.J. Little, a nurse anesthetist student, said he thought the presentation was “amazing.”

“She was very accurate with everything she said,” Little said. He also said medical ethics need to be addressed in all medical fields including nursing, pharmacy, and dentistry.

For more information of the Health Professions Club contact club president Kelvin Amarquaye at 240-421-6603.


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