Us et abus de la haute technologie médicale

Comme cela est recommandé, alors qu'il était en bonne santé De Bakey avait déclaré jusqu'où il voulait que l'on aille dans les soins au cas où il serait malade et dans l'incapacité de s'exprimer. Il avait notamment indiqué qu'il ne voulait pas subir une intervention chirurgicale majeure.

Selon un principe fondamental de l'éthique médicale contemporaine, tout patient a le droit de prendre ce type de décision et les médecins ont le devoir de s'y conformer. Ne pas tenir compte du choix d'un patient une fois qu'il n'a plus la capacité de prendre une décision - ce qui s'est produit quand la femme de De Bakey a semble-t-il déboulé au milieu d'une réunion du comité d'éthique de l'hôpital qui se tenait tard dans la nuit pour demander qu'on l'opère - bafoue le droit des patients de faire respecter leur volonté, droit difficilement gagné au cours des 20 dernières années.

Beaucoup de commentaires sur cette affaire ont tourné autour de la question de savoir si l'intervention d'une famille aimante devait l'emporter sur la volonté du patient. Mais on ne s'est guère posé la question de savoir s'il était opportun de réaliser une opération dangereuse, invasive et coûteuse sur une personne de 97 ans, même si elle le souhaite.

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