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science
INSIDE THE ETHICS COMMITTEE
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Inside the Ethics Committee
Wednesdays 11, 18 May & 1 June 2005 8.00-8.45pm
Saturdays 14, 21 & 28 May 10.15-11.00pm
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Sat 28 May 2005 (rpt Wed)
Listen to this programme in full
As medicine becomes ever more complex, so do the ethical dilemmas facing medical staff, patients and their families.

In this new three-part series, Inside the Ethics Committee, Vivienne Parry presents real life cases to a panel of experts from clinical ethics committees in hospitals around the UK.
 
Full programme  transcript >>

Programme 3 - End of Life

In the final programme, the panel discusses the difficult ethics surrounding treatment withdrawal.

This week - they consider the case of a man in his late sixties with a chronic lung condition. He was admitted to hospital with breathing difficulties and eventually had a tracheotomy. A hole was cut in his neck and a breathing tube, attached to a ventilator, was inserted directly into his lungs.

When doctors asked him about future treatment, sometimes he wanted everything to be done to keep him alive. At other times, he wrote statements such as 'I want to die'.

However, his next of kin was adamant that treatment shouldn't be withdrawn.

Ethical issues

- How much do advanced directives, or 'living wills', override doctor's opinions on the best interests of their patient?

- How do medical staff judge if a patient is 'competent'?

- Are doctors prolonging this patient's life or just delaying his death?

- How much consideration should be given to other patients, desperately in need of intensive care beds?

Programme 1 - Treating a Jehovah's Witness
Programme 2 - Temporary Transplants

More Information:

UK Clinical Ethics Network
Age Concern - Making an Advanced Directive
UK Government - Mental Capacity Act 2005
BBC News - Latest news on Burke case
BBC - Health
BBC - Religion & Ethics
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