LINE BETWEEN BENEFIT and INJURY
situations, the line between benefit and injury is so fine that the physician may have to seek another opinion or consult
his conscience to reach a solution since no empirical methods can be used. Ordinary medical care is a delicate balance between
beneficial treatment and harmful side-effects of the methods used. The consideration of balance includes costs, health risks,
and medical benefits. No therapeutic modality is free of risk. If we were to consider any risk as unacceptable there would
be no medicine.
Law gives us very clear guidelines on the balance between risks and benefits. A disease, considered an injury, should be relieved.
Before occurrence attempts must be made to prevent its injury as much as is possible. The injury should however not be relieved
by inflicting an injury of the same or higher degree. In cases of doubt about the relative importance of the benefits of treatment
and the side-effects of the treatment, we follow the principle that prevention of injury has priority over pursuit of a benefit
of equal worth. If the benefit has far more importance and worth than the injury, then the pursuit of the benefit has priority.
EVIL vs GREATER EVIL
we cannot empirically compare the harm of continuing untreated disease and the possible harm from medical care, we follow
the principle of selecting the lesser of two evils. If confronted with 2 actions both of which are harmful and there is no
way but to choose one of them, the one with lesser harm is committed in order to block the way for the bigger harm. A lesser
harm is committed in order to prevent a bigger harm.
INTEREST vs INDIVIDUAL INTEREST
also implies that an individual could suffer in the interest of preventing a public harm since public interest has priority
over individual interest. The individual may have to sustain an injury in order to protect public interest. This could occur
in a situation of a contagious disease treated with potentially toxic medication in order to prevent its spread in the community.
PROHIBITED vs THE PERMITTED
sometimes are confronted with medical interventions that are double edged; they have both prohibited and permitted effects.
The guidance of the Law is that the prohibited has priority of recognition over the permitted if the two occur together and
a choice has to be made
- Give 3 illustrations of a choice between benefit and injury in a medical intervention
- Give 2 illustrations of a choice between public and individual interest in a medical intervention
- Give 3 illustrations of a choice between a lesser and greater evil in a medical intervention
- Give 2 illustrations of a choice between the prohibited and the permitted in a double-edged
/ effect situation