Ethics: Modern Medicine

1211 Words Dec 8th, 2009 5 Pages
MEDICAL CASE
You are a general practitioner and a mother comes into your office with a child who is complaining of flu-like symptoms. Upon entering the room you ask the boy to remove his shirt and you notice a pattern of very distinct bruises on the boy’s torso. You ask the mother where the bruises came from and she tells you that they are from a procedure she performed on him known as “cao gio” which is also known as “coining”. The procedure involves rubbing warm oils or gels on a person’s skin with a coin or other flat metal object. The mother explains that cao gio is used to raise out bad blood, and improve circulation and healing. When you touch the boy’s back with your stethoscope, he winces in pain from the bruises. You debate
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The doctor is on oath that “ He remembers that he remains a member of society with special obligations to all his fellow human being, those of sound mind and body as well as the infirm” Therefore we suggest that the physician should step in to stop a cultural practice,
A) When the adverse effects of the practice gets to the knowledge of the physician. This could be a permanent or irreversible disability or life threatening situation.
b) When the outcome of the practice gets into the public domain and therefore the physician’s jurisdiction. For instance following an act of genital mutilation when the child is sent to the physician for examination and recommendation.
This might be the best time for the physician to make his case because the evidence would be clear to see and appreciated by all concerned. However it is important to note that breaking traditional medicine or cultural practices is not easy since they have been in use for centuries and are still in use because of their therapeutic properties.

Should the physician be concerned about alienating the mother and other people of her ethnicity from modern medicine?
Yes, in order not to get them prejudiced against the use of modern medicine. Cultural practices are really valued by the communities. They have stood the length of time and any attempt to wash them away will be met with some resistance. The physicians would have to exercise a lot of caution. Introduction of modern medicine to them would have