In January 1944, a 17-year-old Navy seaman named Nathan Schnurman volunteered to test protective clothing for the Navy.
Following orders, he donned a gas mask and special clothes and was escorted into a 10-foot by 10-foot chamber, which was then locked from the outside.
Traditionally, you have used your entire budget for the past several years, which usually lasts from January until December.
This allows you to care for all of the few thousand patients who come to you for treatment throughout the year.
One day in January, a frightened, thin young man appears to the clinic with a folder of medical records.
He is accompanied by his aunt, who explains to you that he has recently traveled from El Salvador, where he was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer that, if untreated, will result in his death within six months.
Moral distress is one explanation for how we ultimately make ethical decisions, and while most of these decisions will not have a clear “right” versus “wrong” outcome, they all deserve equal consideration and moral reasoning. Chan School of Public Health in the Department of Health Policy and Management.
As physicians, it is critical that we do not ignore the health needs of our communities; and as public health practitioners, we must remember that at the end of the day, we are fighting for communities that are made up of individual people.
Thinking through this further, we must look closely at our values as a country and a health system: thanks to EMTALA, we ensure that no patient will ever be allowed to die of an emergency condition while in a hospital; thus, we value saving people from imminent, preventable death.
However, there are two bioethical principles at odds here: beneficence (doing what is best for the individual patient) and justice (doing what is most equitable for a society or group of patients).