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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - November 18, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta Medical ethics committee sorely tried by euthanasia question By GEORGE STEPHENSON Herald Staff Writer Since about 400 B.C. when Hippocrates took medicine from the realm of superstition to that of disciplined observation doctors have been ex- pected to act according to certain principles. And those guidelines, the physicians' Code of Ethics, have never faced radical change from .the ancient codes. Dr. Hugh Arnold, chairman of the Canadian Medical Association's ethics committee, says the code is a guideline for a physician's practice that covers "pretty well everything a doctor would run into." From the dilemma of keeping a patient alive whose death is inevitable to the problem of organ transplants, the Code of Ethics is expected to be the physicians' guide The code used by the Canadian Medical Association, which was developed and approved by the World Medical Association, was reviewed in 1970 to clarify expected conduct of physicians regarding recently discovered procedures. "The last one (code) was kept in good stead but it needed some Dr. Arnold says. "For example there had to be a clear definition of death because of the development of transplants. "But there has never been much essential the Lethbridge physician adds. "What was expected of the physician years ago should be the same today." Dr. Arnold's committee is responsible for interpreting the code as it applies to individual situations. "There are problems which may have an ethical complexion which may be referred to the committee. "The committee examines the problem, interprets the code and gives its Dr. Arnold says. The committee has grappled with problems ranging from euthanasia to confidentiality and has made recommendations to the general membership of the CMA on how physicians should act in situations regarding these problems. The "treacherous" topic of euthanasia is one the CMA committee "is still wrestling with." The profession is to be guided by the ethics outlined in the code which say "an ethical physi- cian will allow death to occur with dignity and comfort when death of the body appears to be inevitable. "Also an ethical physician may support the body when clinical death of the mind has occured but need not prolong life by unusual or heroic means." Dr. Arnold says physicians must keep- the at- titude their first responsibility to the patient is preservation of life. "As soon as we have lost sight of this (preser-" vation of life) we are in danger of losing one of our greatest Dr. Arnold says. "We do not believe in euthanasia but believe we have a responsibility to the dying patient." The responsibility to the patient overrides all other considerations in most problems a physi- cian encounters, he adds. But in some cases the responsibility to a com- munity can be more important than the physi- cian patient relationship. Confidentiality 'between a doctor and patient, which is a major ethic, must at times be broken in order to serve the interests of the community, Dr Arnold says. He explained if a person came to an emergency ward with a stab wound a doctor would be ethically bound to divulge that informa- tion to help in the capture of the assailant As well as the physician's responsibility to the patient is the patient's responsibility to himself, Dr. Arnold says This must be taken into consideration when Canadian physicians decide what is ethical behaviour in certain situations At the Alberta Medical Associations annual meeting in September physicians turned aside a recommendation that doctors should inform the department of motor vehicles about patients who they feel are not fit to drive The responsibility of the physician is to tell the patient he should not drive, then the patient must take the responsibility to act on that advice. Dr. Arnold says District The Lethbridge Herald Local news Second Section Lethbridge, Alberta, Monday, November 18, 1974 Pages 13-24 Folk festival Albertans young and old kicked up their heels at the Folk Arts Festival Sunday on the University of Lethbridge campus, sponsored jointly by the U of L and the Allied Arts Council. Ethnic dancing, singing, costume and art were all part of the festivities as the cultures of many lands were highlighted. Some people attended the afternoon dance test which saw appearances by native dancers, two Kopak girls, a young Kopak dancer and one young spectator who stole the show with a two-step of her own. Photos by Walter Keroer University Senate changes its role By JIM GRANT Herald Staff Writer After considerable debate and several amendments, a report recommending the restructuring of the Universi- ty of Lethbridge senate was adopted by a meeting of senators Saturday The changes in senate struc- ture approved by the senators are designed to get the senate more involved in university affairs and perform a more ef- ficient liaison role between the university and Southern Alberta communities. The five-member com- mittee, comprised of five senators or former senators, proposed the changes to the 55-member senate because it found that the senate was "not functioning in a meaningful way at the present time." The committee noted that the senate has been a "valuable and powerful influence on the community and upon the provincial government" in the past. To reclaim the position of importance it once held, the senators approved the es- tablishment and reorganiza- tion of several committees to solicit information about un- iversity matters, review it and make recommendations to the senate There was a difference of opinion expressed among a few senators about the degree of involvement the senate should have in internal operations of the university. It was suggested that senators, or committees of the senate, should not be in- volved with investigating the operations of the university and publicly criticizing such operations but should instead act as lobbyists for the in- stitution A few of the non- admimstrative members of the senate (lay persons) suggested that one of the report's recommendations calling for the senate to ex- amine deficiencies within the university and bring them to the attention of the proper authority, was in order It was eventually agreed that the senate's examination of deficiencies within the U of L should be of a positive nature and not destructive to the cause of the university. Criticism to improve university According to Maurice Mitchell, chairman of the committee compiling the report, the intention of all the recommendations were constructive and designed to improve the operation of the university, its image and com- munication with the public. Appearing concerned that the senate would become a public critic of the university if it adopted the proposed changes in the report, Owen Holmes, U of L vice- president, warned the senators their role should be to enhance the university instead of the role of critics. "We have lots of critics." Dr. Holmes stated, while suggesting that it is easy to be a bad critic but takes "a lot of work to be a good critic." He pointed out that the un- iversity does more internal self-examination than any organization that "I have ever been connected with With a note of bitterness in lib voice, Dr. Holmes recalled that in "all my years as a member of the senate" the senate hasn't accomplished very much. "I am not as enthusiastic about the senate as I used to be." the vice-president said early in his remarks to the meeting. He cited the issue of where the university was to be located, development of physical education facilities on campus and the native American studies program as three instances when the senate played a critical and positive role. However, he said, other operations of the senate have had an adverse affect on the U of L. He referred to comments made at senate meetings last spring about the operations of the university as harmful. "When the senate engages in criticism in a public forum and it is not well researched this can have an adverse affect on the university." Dr Holmes expressed dis- appointment that the com- mittee members didn't con- sult the U of L administration when compiling the report. He suggested the report's view of the senate as a critic would not have come through in the same way had the ad- ministrators been consulted. Vice-president wants no more critics The university does not need "another group of investigators stomping around campus." he remarked. Dr. Holmes suggested three ways in which the senate should have been lobbying for the university. The senate could have added a strong voice of support in the university's effort to ob- tain a fine arts theatre on campus. It could have provid- ed a strong voice of support for the theatre had it made the need for a theatre known to the government commission that recently completed a study of fine arts in the province, he said. On a positive note. Dr. Holmes then pointed out that there is still a "good possibili- ty for us" to obtain the theatre. He also said the senate should have done "a little hustling" to assist the students in obtaining a students union building on campus. Thirdly, the senate should be attempting to make the U of L a provincial university, he recommended The senate should have representation from Calgary, Edmonton and other distant points. Remarks by senators following Dr Holmes com- ments, revealed they were un- aware of one or two of the needs of the U of L that the vice-president spoke of It was then suggested that some of the report's recommendations may help alleviate the apparent lack of communication between the senate and the university that was revealed by Dr Holmes' remarks. The report, as approved by the senate, calls for the senate to solicit concerns and sub- missions from other organizations within the un- iversity community so senators are better informed on university matters Senator Greg Hales was specifically concerned with Dr Holmes" conception of the committee's report as a direc- tive to the senate to second guess the activities of the un- iversity. "It strikes me they (com- mittee members) are really conrerned and are not second guessing the university Mr Halet. then pointed out that non-university people-do have an "important input" to conlnbute to the university Attitude called Senator Syd Slen suggested Dr Holmes" altitude toward the senate was "rather negative He said he is a much stronger supporter of the senate today than he was four years ago and felt "we (senators can do great things for the university Committee member John Szumlas said the new direc- tion proposed by the report for the senate will help senators gam an undprslanding of their role at the university "We do have a role in the community and jn the univer- sity." he suggested BiH Beckel. president, told the meeting it is not un- common for senators, gover- nors or administrators within Ihe university to become frustrated with the role they play. There are so many people involved "with what's going on" and such an intense ex- amination of the progress of the university that an in- dividual can become frustrated with the role tbe> play in the whole process. Dr Beckel explained In summation of the report's recommendations on ihr role of the senate. Mr Mile-hell reminded senators 1ha1 il was not 1be inlenlion of Ihe committee thai Ihe senate was to become a witch hun- ting" body and Chancellor -lames Oshiro warned the senators approval of the report would mean more work for them The senators were obvioush in favor of becoming more ac- tive and involved in university affairs An overwhelming ma- jonU supported the report in its amended form ;