Military Medical Ethics – Scenario Database

Do all to safe a life – or switch to palliative care?

ID/Number: 64
Last updated: 20 Nov, 2018
Revision: 3
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During a mission abroad, a soldier is seriously wounded by the explosion of an IED. His injuries are life-threatening and the personal medical would have to perform a long and difficult surgery to try to save the soldier's life.

Resources, however, are scarce and in addition the doctors assume that the wounded soldier will have a poor quality of life if he eventually survives the surgery.

Source: Adapted from Rochon, Christiane (2014): La bioéthique et les conflits armées : la réflexion éthique des médecins militaires. (, page 144.

Questions for the discussion of this scenario

1. Should the medical personnel make every effort to save the life of the wounded soldier even though he will a porr quality of life?
2. (How) Can one predict the quality of life?
3. At what point can it be ethially justified to "only" give palliative care to comfort the wounded soldier and let him die?

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This scenario is also listed in the following categories
folder Military Medical Ethics Scenarios -> Limited/ scarce resources environment -> Conflict setting

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