Essay

The bioethicist: an emperor with no clothes?

Last fall readers of this magazine were invited to present “thorny professional situations” to a panel of “bioethics experts,” who would discuss the dilemmas raised in an article in Yale Medicine (“Two Alternatives, Each a Little Wrong,” Spring 2004). In that article, it was noted that the bioethics committee at Yale-New Haven Hospital includes “ethicists” in addition to doctors, nurses, lawyers, social workers, clergy and members of the community. The initial inquiry, the discussion and the description of the committee prompted me to ask, what exactly is a “bioethicist” anyway?I have served on an ethics committee at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center for more than 20 years, as chair of two institutional...

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