Saturday, April 5, 2008

Medical Ethics

It's 2:45 AM, so I'll make this as snappy as possible. Oh, by the by, it's not Ira's fault this time, it's The Almighty Editor's. Go figure.
Rabbi Chayim Friedman Farbrenged earlier this evening. Shocked by the lack of titles? I told you I was going to make this brief. When a surgeon prepares to do surgery, he (or she, for that matter) prepares himself extensively. He cuts his fingernails, and blunts, them. Then he washed his hands to the elbow, and then puts on latex-free gloves. The janitorial staff, meanwhile, has been working hard to ensure that the operating room is completely sterile, that not a single germ should be left standing. What happens then? The patient is wheeled in, the doctor takes out a knife, and boom! There's blood everywhere. What was the point of all that preparation? Obviously, it was to ensure that there's be no infection, that the patient shouldn't be damaged. Even though it may seem like he's being hurt by the doctor, the whole point is to help, and it would be terrible for anything to go wrong.
So too a person who comes to criticize his friend; he has to make sure that his motives are pure, and that his words are measured. He must keep in mind what he is doing, and what his goals are. The point is not to cut open, though that may have to be done; rather, the point is to heal.
After Rabbi Friedman said this I wandered on over and made the observation that in an emergency, there's no time for the doctor to wash his hands. A paramedic, if necessary, will plunge right in, disregarding the circumstances he finds himself in. Why? Because time is of the essence, and what good will it do the patient if his doctor's hands are pure but he is dead?
So too with education. Sometimes a Mashpia has the advantage of time, the ability to objectively evaluate a situation and ensure a sterile environment for his reprimand. Sometimes though, on the front line, the fire is burning, and someone has to put it out. There's no time for dilly-dallying, no opportunity to calm down. The guy has just got to go in there with guns blazing, and hopefully it'll all turn out all right.

So yeah, short, and not so sweet, but it's not bad for someone whose brain turned off a couple hours ago. (These things happen. Sad, but necessary. Like a cow swimming in the ocean)


Anonymous said...

Why doesn't Google have any idea what time it is?

But really, I think maybe the point of the farb. was that when a regular fellow wants to criticize he needs to imitate the doctor or surgeon. Yes, in case of emergency you would allow a doctor to jump right in and skip some precautions. But a non-professional would be wasting his time and risking the life of the victim if he jumped in not even knowing of what precautions there are to take.

So again, the point of the farb. might be: don't wait until you need to criticize and then learn how to go about doing it. Prepare yourself NOW for the eventual need to criticize (constructively), become a doctor (or an aide), so that in an emergency, you'll be qualified to open your mouth.

Or something like that.