(Reuters) – The Ebola crisis is forcing the American healthcare system to consider the previously unthinkable: withholding some medical interventions because they are too dangerous to doctors and nurses and unlikely to help a patient.
U.S. hospitals have over the years come under criticism for undertaking measures that prolong dying rather than improve patients’ quality of life.
But the care of the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States, who received dialysis and intubation and infected two nurses caring for him, is spurring hospitals and medical associations to develop the first guidelines for what can reasonably be done and what should be withheld.
Officials from at least three hospital systems interviewed by Reuters said they were considering whether to withhold individual procedures or leave it up to individual doctors to determine whether an intervention would be performed.
Ethics experts say they are also fielding more calls from doctors asking what their professional obligations are to patients if healthcare workers could be at risk. …
Throughout the history of medicine some doctors have declined to treat infectious patients or fled epidemics, said Michigan’s Markel. Greek physician and philosopher Galen fled Rome during the bubonic plague 1,800 years ago, doctors deserted European cities stricken by the Black Death of the Middle Ages, and some health workers refused to treat HIV/AIDS patients in the 1980s.
“The idea that a doctor would stick to his post to the last during an epidemic, that’s not part of the Hippocratic Oath,” Markel said. “If you feel your life is at risk you don’t have to stay and provide care.”
The passage that comes to mind reminds me that there is one Shepherd who will never flee:
John 10:11-14 (NASB) “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 12 “He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 “He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. 14 “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father and I lay My life down for the sheep.
Ebola may be the modern-day wolf; but Christ is our good shepherd, and He will never leave us!
Jesus come quickly.