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Bidding for donors.

Bidding for Donors

When AC began her residency in internal medicine at "Jewish Community" Hospital, a primary teaching affiliate of her university medical school, her orientation packet contained information about an unusual means of supplementing her salary. The hospital administration felt that too few autopsy consents were being secured by the medical staff. To facilitate greater effort in this area it had initiated a policy of paying $100, shared equally between junior and senior residents on a case, when they obtained from the next-of-kin the necessary signed consent for a postmortem examination.

As a resident, AC hears rumors that the pathology department has been threatened with loss of their residency program on numerous occasions due to the "inadequate" number of autopsies performed. The cash payment program was reportedly initiated to provide extra incentive to the resident staff to discuss this delicate topic with family members upon the demise of their loved one. The number of autopsies performed fell below the national norm, it was felt, because the hospital was centered in a primarily orthodox Jewish community and thus served a group that dramatically restricts autopsies as contrary to its law and tradition.

Residency leaves little time for ethical contemplation, so AC simply participates in the program. All the same, once in a while she has doubts--is paying residents for autopsy consents appropriate?
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Title Annotation:includes commentaries; ethical case studies
Author:Silverman, Lewis M.; Carson, Ronald A.
Publication:The Hastings Center Report
Date:Jun 1, 1988
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Next Article:Brain death and organ donation: you can have one without the other.

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