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Dilemmas and Solutions

Frank R. Harrison III, PhD
JAMA. 1974;230(3):401-403. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03240030019018.
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RECENTLY, the popular press has carried articles dealing with the biomedical sciences and technology, and human values. It is stated that physicians seem perplexed by some of the complicated moral decisions thrust on them in the practice of their profession. Situations such as the following are said to generate moral dilemmas that cannot be easily, if at all, sequestered in a physician's daily work.

  1. An infant is born with a critical physical defect that is not correctable given current medical knowledge and technology. What should the attending physician do?

  2. Two persons need a kidney transplant in order to survive, but there is only one kidney available. How can the surgeon determine which candidate will undergo surgery?

  3. A person needs an immediate heart transplant, but at the time there are no available hearts. However, a patient has made provisions to donate his heart on death. This patient is,


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The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
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