Surgical Bioethics: Is It Different?

By Wydell L. Williams, Jr.

Recently I was asked to give a talk on ethics to my surgical colleagues.  The Nevada Chapter of the American College of Surgeons has regular meetings and there are usually one or two speakers giving talks that are relevant to surgeons and their practice.  The speakers are usually academic surgeons or residents talking about their research or someone from the national level discussing policies that will affect our practices.  I was excited to be offered this opportunity because I felt that it was an acknowledgement of my recent degree in bioethics and would allow me to share with my surgical colleagues the concepts I learned.  Suddenly I realized that I was going talk to surgeons who sometimes view themselves as being compassionate, self-sacrificing, methodical, and confident but also can be dominant, brash, impersonal, egocentric, difficult and demanding.  So, I needed to find a topic that would appeal to the diverse surgical specialties and personalities that would be present.  I decided to look at the principles of bioethics and consider how they apply to surgery and do they apply differently from other specialties…
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