The aim of the study was to examine the conflicting duties of a practicing surgeon who is at high risk for morbidity and mortality from Covid-19 infection. Should he opt out of the care of these patients or does his duty to care override other considerations?
Summary Background Data:
Older adults and those with serious medical conditions are at much greater risk for severe disease and death from Covid-19 infection. As a practicing frontline surgeon in a high risk group, the hospital offered the author, and other health care providers at high risk, the option to opt out of the care Covid-19 suspected or infected patients before an anticipated surge. What should the surgeon and other health care providers do? This is a question many are asking and having to answer.
In this article, the author describes how difficult the situation of having any choice at all was and then how difficult it was to arrive at a decision. The duty to care and its limits, as well as obligations to society, family, co-workers, and to self, are examined. The author considers how he and others can contribute in other ways to patients and providers.
The author arrives at a morally permissible and a rational decision to opt out. Health care workers at high risk can contribute in other ways to patients and providers. It still may not feel right.