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Conflict of loyalties - Hippocratic or hypocritical?

Abstract

The theme of this particular case seems to be one of protection - protection of all the individuals concerned, the patient's own GP, the patient, her mother and, in an even more subtle way, the patient's boyfriend.

As the title suggests, the dilemma consists of a conflict of loyalties as regards who should be protected first, from whom and why. The medical problem presented was one of termination of pregnancy, but a new ethical issue arose when the patient consulted another doctor in a neighbouring practice. It is this doctor - Dr Winterton - who puts his dilemma to the conference for discussion.

Those taking part were Dr Winterton, Dr Crew, Dr Jamieson, Dr Lamb, Dr Anderson, Dr Smith. All names in this Conference have been altered except that of the Chairman, Dr Higgs. The discussion was recorded at a residential course for general practitioners.

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