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Science
HARSH REALITIES
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How do health professionals deal with life and death decisions?
Mondays 14-28 April 2003 9.00-9.30pm

Medicine is not an exact science. Every day healthcare professionals are expected to make life and death decisions with only their expertise and experience to guide them. There is no comprehensive rule book to tell them how to act. Harsh Realities looks at how doctors, nurses, social services, and advisers take vital decisions about our lives.

Healthcare


Niall Dickson, the BBC’s social affairs editor, chairs three discussions that attempt to get to the heart of these issues. In each programme Niall will be joined by professionals who have direct experience of the subject under discussion.

The first programme in the series tackles child abuse. When a medical professional suspects that a child has been assaulted, what course of action should they take? Protection of the child is vital of course, but the notorious over zealousness of practitioners on Orkney and Teesside have made many doctors hesitant. Removing a child from his or her home is a dramatic step. If there is even a hint of doubt about the case, should the professionals act – or play it safe?

Other programmes in the series will look at the stark choices facing parents and professionals when a baby is born severely disabled and the legal minefield of assisted suicide. Is it ever morally acceptable for a doctor to help kill a patient?

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