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Towards understanding the patient better

Doctors often have a tough time when patients refuse to undergo surgery saying it is against their faith and practice.

In the West, clinical ethicist consultant comes into play in such cases.

The ethicist consultant mediates between the patient and the doctor and comes out with a solution that suits the former.

“Here we are yet to understand the patient and help him in the decision-making process, especially in ethical conflicts,” says Vina Vaswani, head of the Department of Forensic Science, Yenepoya University, which is preparing professionals in this new field of clinical ethics.

The university offers a postgraduate diploma course in bioethics that includes clinical ethics.

It recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Johannes Gutenberg University, the oldest German university, in the field of clinical ethics.

Reinhard Urban, Dean, Medical Faculty, Johannes Gutenberg University, says the new arrangement exposes students of both countries to such ethical issues.

“In a globalised world, it is necessary to have intercultural exchange of ethics in medicine,” Dr. Urban told The Hindu.

Students of both universities will know each other's approach to the problems.

“Our problems and approaches are quite different from those here. Learning other cultures helps in resolving ethical conflicts in a better way,” Dr. Urban says. Clinical ethics involves understanding, among others, the patient's personality, his beliefs and values.

“For instance, a person from South Asia takes major decisions in consultation with elders in his family. The clinical ethicist dealing with a patient from that region has to know this,” Dr. Vaswani says.

She says that the university has plans to include postgraduate diploma holders as members of the Yenepoya Medical College's Medical Ethics Committee.

RAGHAVA M.

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