Survey Finds Doctors Split On Ethical Issues, Stanford Expert Weighs In

PALO ALTO (KCBS) – A new nationwide survey has attempted to find out what doctors will do when faced with key medical ethical issues.

The survey by WebMD asked 24,000 doctors about some of the toughest questions they face, sometimes on a daily basis.

Doctors were asked questions such as, is it acceptable to perform unnecessary procedures because of malpractice concerns? Or, should physician assisted suicide be allowed in some situations?

KCBS’ Rebecca Corral Reports:

Hank Greely, the Director of Stanford’s Center for Law and the Biosciences, said that for the most part, there was little to no consensus on many of the issues.

“The first and strongest impression I got is it’s further evidence that doctors are people too,” Greely said.

Greely, who specializes in medical ethics, advises government officials on state, national and international policy issues.

“There are hard questions and nothing got universal agreement among the doctors,” he said. “Very few things were really strongly, one way or the other. For most things, the doctors were deeply split on these hard issues. And I think that’s kind of encouraging.”

Greely said there is a deep social split on many of these issues, like end-of-life care, and many patients wouldn’t want doctors whose values differ dramatically from their opinions.

Click here for results of the survey.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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