Look in my head

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

you have the magic

Today I was faced with an ethical question. There is a baby here that is in very poor health. He is so bad off that a nurse has to monitor him every 2 hours or he will begin to code. (die) The mother is here and she is not stable yet and the father has no means or will to take care of the baby. Our hospital is not big enough to facilitate long term care we have to make room for wounded American soldiers. We are here primarily for American soldiers, Iraqi National guard, and people we hurt on accident or in war. To cut to the chase the decision has been made to allow this 7 lb horrible mal nutritioned 1 year old to go back with his father. The father says the baby is bad luck and he doesn't want him. This child will be dead with in weeks of giving him back to the family if it takes that long. This country has no social services, or Government sponsored foster care. It is so primitive.....So barbaric. The baby has to be fed by a tube and if the tube is not down far enough they will be feeding into the lungs. The tube we removed was so crusted with formula that there was no way formula was going down it. I have seen amputating when a leg could have been saved on Iraqis because multiple skin graphs were not possible (that would constitute long term care). But when it is the life of a helpless child it seems wrong on a whole different level. When the father of this baby comes around he says, You take her you have the magic medical treatment to keep her alive. He does not seem bright enough to even feed his baby and change diapers if the kid was normal, but he is right about our magic....Its called modern medicine.


At December 5, 2004 at 1:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jason. The title of this post and the actual content do not seem to be in perfect agreement. The nature of a field hospital does not lend itself to long-term care. However, the driving force behind this limitation seems to be the need to provide short-term care to a specific population (American and Iraqi combatants) and not a lack of compassion for those who don't fall into this category (the little baby).

The story of this baby is tragic, to say the least. But the responsibility of the medical personnel at your facility shouldn't extend to taking on legal rights of a parent or for educating a father to his responsibilies towards his infant daughter. If she was sick or wounded, you fixed what you could and did what you do for everyone that comes through your doors: You attempted to move her out to the next stage in her 'care'. That this next stage will probably be her last is hugely unjust, but not in your power to prevent. Unless you and your colleagues are willing to take on the huge ethical and legal burden of putting this infant into somebody eles's care, there is very little you can do.



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