AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Journal of Ethics Header

AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Virtual Mentor. March 2000, Volume 2, Number 3.

Ethics Poll

Practicing Procedures on the Newly Deceased for Training Purposes

The Ethics Poll is a snapshot of the opinions of interested readers.

During their training, medical students are sometimes asked to practice procedures on recently deceased patients. These procedures include endotracheal intubation, placement of central venous catheters, surgical venous cutdowns, and thoracotomies. Nearly 40% of US training programs in critical care use newly deceased patients. This practice has recently come under some scrutiny, raising the tension between the interests of a patient and the interest of those being educated to care for patients. As a medical student, do you believe such procedures are ethically permissible?

Poll Results

Are practice procedures on recently deceased patients ethically permissible?

54 votes recorded
Yes, as long as alternative means are not available
7 votes - 7%

Yes, as long as patients are informed during admission that they may be subjected to such procedures
29 votes - 54%

No, because these procedures are strictly for pedagogical purposes and by definition provide no therapeutic benefits for the deceased
9 votes - 17%

No, because families are usually not informed when such procedures occur
9 votes - 17%

Poll results reflect the opinions of visitors to the site who voluntarily answer the poll questions. Those visitors do not represent a random sample of Virtual Mentor readers. The viewpoints expressed on this site are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.