Intended for healthcare professionals


Ethics in a twist

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 07 August 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:390
  1. Colin Douglas, doctor and novelist
  1. Edinburgh

    Life Support, BBC1, Mondays at 9 30 pm, 19 July to 23 August

    This new drama series offers a package tour of the major issues in medical ethics. A large old inner city Scottish hospital has employed a clinical ethicist, and there—in the time honoured phrase—the trouble begins. The central character, Katherine Doone, is 30-something, clever, forceful, committed, and quite hard not to watch. In her dealings with the lumpen consultariat she variously simmers, flounces, and erupts. With patients and relatives, she is all charm and insight, and—it goes without saying—a far better communicator than any of her medical colleagues. You know when she is thinking serious ethics because her brow furrows and her lips purse. Off duty, she is troubled and vulnerable, a mystery on the local singles scene. In short, the ideal ethicist for a controversial medical drama series.

    With three episodes down and three to go, we have learned a lot. Dilemmas arise in the care of patients with brain damage and quadriplegia, refractory childhood leukaemia, and a lady solicitor with obstetric complications, …

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