Ethics Ethics vs. Medical Ethics

After Dr. Perowne’s home invasion, I had a very hard time grasping the reason and emotions behind his decision to perform surgery on Baxter. I think that after such a horrible experience that Baxter puts Perowne through, he is the last person that he would want to help. As a female, Baxter’s forcing Daisy to undress was really disturbing to me. Although it added an interesting twist with her revealed pregnancy, I think that Baxter completely violates all rules of human decency and Daisy’s innocence within her family’s home.

With this scene of the home invasion and Daisy’s nakedness in mind, I still cannot quite understand why Dr. Perowne wanted to help Baxter. Even after he is pushed down the stairs, Dr. Perowne helps him survive. He calls 911 and doesn’t let him suffer. This I think shows true character on Dr. Perowne’s part. Despite Baxter’s terrible invasion of his family’s privacy, he still shows this man proper care.

I personally do not think performing surgery on Baxter was ethical. If any of the other doctors or nurses in that operating room knew the relationship between Dr. Perowne and Baxter, they would not have allowed for this. This scene of the surgery really kept me enraptured in the text. I couldn’t put the book down just because I was expecting something drastic to happen, if Baxter was going to die on the table, or if Dr. Perowne’s perfection with surgery was going to fail him for the first time when it counted the most? This was a very smart twist for McEwan to add in, however, I think that this ethical dilemma must be addressed from a medical perspective.

As mentioned in class, it may not be moral for him to perform surgery on Baxter. But is it more ethical for Perowne to not step in to perform surgery when Rodney is incapable? Clearly the medical ethics line has been blurred here. And this is quite a tricky situation that Perowne is faced with. I think the only character who confronts Perowne appropriately in the text is his wife. She asks: “You’re not thinking about doing something, about some kind of revenge are you?” (246). She is the only family member that even poses this question to Dr. Perowne. And I think this is an interesting character trait of his wife’s. She seems to play the “conscience” of Dr. Perowne in this scene. By questioning his intentions, McEwan allows the reader to see Dr. Perowne’s thought process and intentions during this drastic decision.

The only reason I can possibly find to explain his intentions in performing surgery on Baxter is because he feels bad for him. I think Dr. Perowne blames himself for the home invasion and he clearly regrets the earlier confrontation with Baxter. However, I think that on a personal level, he realizes this man will die a miserable life in the future if his Huntington’s disease diagnosis is accurate. But he wants to give Baxter a better life for the time being. And I think that regardless of medical ethics, it is very admirable of Dr. Perowne. He truly cares about the patients he is operating on, despite his arrogance and precision. I think that this decision is an important one for us to individually reflect upon. Even if there is a personal conflict of interest, are we willing to take the necessary risks to make the moral decision? Or will we let medical ethics stand in our way?


~ by frumll on April 2, 2010.

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