Observations Ethics Man

Doctors in danger

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i1075 (Published 23 February 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i1075
  1. Daniel Sokol, barrister and medical ethicist
  1. 12 King’s Bench Walk, London, UK
  1. Sokol{at}12kbw.co.uk

There’s no obligation to stay, no matter the risk

In March 2011 the earth shook off the coast of Japan. The ensuing tsunami breached the walls of the Fukuyama Daiichi nuclear power plant, releasing vast quantities of radioactive material into the atmosphere. Hundreds of thousands of people evacuated the area. In a psychiatric hospital 35 km from Fukushima three of the six full-time doctors resigned and moved away. One explained, “I’m concerned about radiation because I’ve got a small child.”1

A feature of Ebola epidemics since 1976 has been the high death toll among clinicians and the tendency of local doctors and nurses to flee. In the recent outbreak in west Africa many foreign doctors returned home for safety reasons, leaving behind patients and local colleagues. So …

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