Ethics Case Study – 23

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Question category- laws, rules, regulations and conscience as source of ethical guidance / Foundational values for civil services / empathy and compassion towards weaker section.

You, a graduate from a top medical college of the country made it to the civil services and got IAS. After a few years you were made the DM of a left wing extremism affected backward district of an already poor state. Unfortunately there is a drought continuing in this part of the country for previous two years. You are visiting a few villages in a block deep in the forest inhabited by poor tribals. There is a team of doctors, NGOs, media and police along with numerous support staffs with you. You reach a village where the calamity is more monstrous than you had ever thought of as a human. You are moved with the plight and the stories of ineffectiveness of the Govt. you learnt in texts suddenly appears as true as the merciless sun above you.

Suddenly a young man comes running to your team and says that his pregnant wife is in labor and losing blood. You asked a doctor to see it for. This doctor returns and conveys you that this woman can be saved only if blood is “transfused immediately”. Upon enquiry you came to know that a few blood collection bags (kits) are there in the ambulance accompanying your team. Meanwhile a few people of the team turned up to volunteer for donation of blood. As a doctor you know that ethical transfusion of blood is possible but unbanked transfusion of blood is illegal and warrants criminal charges if pursued.

People meanwhile started pouring in suggestions. Few are for transfusion and few cited it to be illegal. The doctors are ready to facilitate delivery but they ask an assurance that upon transfusion they won’t be arrested.  Unfortunately, there is a senior subordinate from your office witnessing the event. He is the same guy you had suspended upon charges of unethical acts within weeks of assuming charge despite his request for leniency and a promise of good conduct in future. On top of all this is present a media person who has been reporting against you for past few months as part of a conspiracy against you by a local politician.

You are stuck. Transfusion can be ethical, you know. You were taught service to humanity and people in the medical school and as well as during IAS training. But saving this dying woman this way is against law and will result in criminal proceedings against you and the concerned doctors.

Assuming above hypothesis true, propose your action. (200 words)

By – Prasoon Kaushik