Dual obligations in clinical forensic medicine

Lukhozi, Sipho Michael (2014-04)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis discusses ethical dilemmas faced by district surgeons in South Africa. District surgeons render clinical forensic services, which means that they deal mainly with detainees and victims of crime. The main functions of district surgeons are the collection of forensic evidence from patients and the care of detainees. So the focus is to assist in the administration of justice rather than improvement of patient wellbeing. The district surgeon may therefore find himself in a situation where patients’ interests are in conflict with those of law enforcement agencies. Being a medical practitioner in clinical forensic medicine, the district surgeon has an obligation to assist in the administration of justice, as opposed to the traditional obligation to care for patients and put patient’s interests first. This allegiance to both administration of justice as well as patient wellbeing lead to an ethical dilemma of dual loyalties. A dual obligations presents an ethical dilemma for the district surgeon, especially if they are in conflict and mutually exclusive. I discuss the detention and subsequent death of Steve Biko to illustrate how dual obligations can lead to serious human rights violations and even death. Dual obligations are however not limited to detainees and police custody settings, and I demonstrate this by discussing three other scenarios commonly encountered by district surgeons. There is a lack clear guidance for district surgeons who are faced with a conflict of obligations. I explore several ethical theories including consequentialism, deontology and virtue ethics, in search of an ethical framework suitable for resolving conflicts in clinical forensic medicine. I therefore argue that a duty based ethical framework is central to clinical forensic medicine and the resolution of loyalty conflicts. I recommend the resolution of conflicts by using an approach developed by Benjamin (2006). This approach involves weighing -up the different duties in conflict, applying philosophical reasoning and then amelioration. By adopting a structured and wellreasoned ethical framework, district surgeons will be able to deal with conflicts of obligations better.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis bespreek etiese dilemmas wat in die gesig gestaar word deur distriksgeneeshere in Suid-Afrika. Distriksgeneeshere lewer kliniese forensiese dienste, wat beteken dat hulle handel hoofsaaklik oor die gevangenes en slagoffers van misdaad. Die belangrikste funksies van distriksgeneeshere is die insameling van forensiese getuienis van pasiënte, en die sorg van gevangenes. Met hierdie benadering is die fokus om te help met die administratiewe doeleindes van geregtigheid, eerder as die verbetering van die pasiënt se welstand. Die distriksgeneesheer kan hom dus in 'n situasie vind waarby die pasiënte se belange in konflik is met dié van wetstoepassingsagentskappe. As 'n geneesheer in kliniese forensiese geneeskunde, het die distriksgeneesheer 'n verpligting om te help met die administrasie van geregtigheid, in teenstelling met die tradisionele verpligting om te sorg vir hul pasiënte, en hul welstand eerste te plaas. Hierdie getrouheid gaan gepaard met beide regspleging, sowel as die welstand van die pasiënt, wat kan lei tot 'n etiese dilemma van dubbele lojaliteit. Dubbele verpligtinge bied 'n etiese dilemma vir die distriksgeneesheer, veral as hulle in konflik en wedersyds uitsluitend is. Ek bespreek die aanhouding en die daaropvolgende dood van Steve Biko om te illustreer hoe dubbele verpligtinge kan lei tot ernstige skending van menseregte en selfs die dood. Dubbele verpligtinge is egter nie beperk tot die gevangenes en polisie-aanhouding instellings nie, en ek demonstreer dit deur die bespreking van drie ander “scenario's” wat oor die algemeen eervaar word deur distriksgeneeshere. Daar is 'n gebrek aan duidelike riglyne vir distriksgeneeshere wat 'n botsing van verpligtinge in die gesig staar. Ek verken verskeie etiese teorieë insluitende konsekwensialisme, deontologie en deugde-etiek, op soek na 'n etiese raamwerk geskik vir die oplossing van konflikte in kliniese geregtelike geneeskunde. Ek argumenteer dus dat 'n pligsgebaseerde etiese raamwerk sentraal is tot kliniese forensiese geneeskunde, en die resolusie van lojaliteit konflikte. Ek beveel die oplossing van konflikte deur die gebruik van 'n benadering wat ontwikkel is deur Benjamin (2006). Hierdie benadering behels 'n gewigsoorweging tussen die verskillende pligte in konflik, die toepassing van filosofiese redenasie en verbetering. Deur die aanneming van 'n gestruktureerde en beredeneerde etiese raamwerk, sal distriksgeneeshere dus in staat wees om konflikte van verpligtinge beter te hanteer.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/86537
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