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‘Ventilators, Guidelines, Judgment, and Trust’
Samuel Gorovitz is a professor of philosophy and former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. An authority in the field of medical ethics, he has authored several books, including “Drawing the Line: Life, Death, and Ethical Choices In An American Hospital” (Temple University Press, 1993) and “Doctors’ Dilemmas: Moral Conflict and Medical Care” (Oxford University Press, 1985).
“Covid‐19 confronts us with tragic choices, in which every option is unacceptable. On the New York State Task Force on Life and the Law, I worked on guidelines for such situations. We did not envision the scale or character of Covid‐19. To minimize fear that the decisions made in these situations might be unfair, we all must know what guidelines or mandates inform them,” Gorovitz writes in a recent commentary for The Hastings Center Report. “Only with transparency about how decisions will be made, by whom, and according to what requirements can we have confidence that fairness prevails.
“We now face many related questions about process, goals, leadership, and trust. For example, how might ethical guidelines evolve as scientific understanding advances? Should guidelines vary with different venues? And if, as I have argued, judgment is necessary even with the best of guidelines, how can we prepare clinicians to make good judgments? Are there implications for better training of personnel in nonemergency times for what they might face in the worst of times?”
To read Gorovitz’s essay in its entirety, visit The Hastings Center website.
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