Military Medical Ethics – Scenario Database

Treatment against the will of family members?

ID/Number: 109
Last updated: 25 Feb, 2019
Revision: 1
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A military convoy accidentally caused a motor vehicle accident. An Afghan woman was inside the car and the convoy brought her and her uncle there. Upon entering the medical unit, she is in pain and her uncle is very angry and wants to be with her at all times.
She has a mild to moderate head injury, but is primarily in hypovolemic shock. No bleeding source is seen externally. Her hemodynamics respond to blood, but she requires expeditious surgery. However, her accompanying family member will not allow any males to see her and care for her, and all of your surgeons are male. The interpreter explains that if she is exposed to male eyes, she will be killed because the honor of the family will have been violated. (This is a practice of some Afghan tribes, and should not be thought to be a universal practice in Afghanistan). The uncle is refusing to allow any men into her treatment area and states that he would rather that she die from her injuries than be seen by a man.

Source: Gaidry, Alicia D. and Hoehner, Paul J. (2016), 'Pilot Study: The Role of Predeployment Ethics Training, Professional Ethics, and Religious Values on Naval Physicians' Ethical Decision Making', Military Medicine, 181 (8), 786-92.

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This scenario is also listed in the following categories
folder Military Medical Ethics Scenarios -> Lack of knowledge and awareness in law, ethics, and intercultural differences -> Lack of knowledge/ awareness in intercultural differences

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