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July 14, 1999

Exploring the Ethics of Clinical Role Conflicts—Reply

JAMA. 1999;282(2):132-133. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-282-2-jbk0714

In Reply: Mr Hall has misread my article, which neither urges "ethical agnosticism" nor refrains from making recommendations about how physicians should cope with role conflict. As Dr Suchman observes, I advocate an approach anchored by the ethical import of keeping faith within clinical relationships. Hall's incisive writings on rationing by clinical caretakers give much less ethical weight to interpersonal fidelity at the bedside than do I. Hall and I do agree on a key point—that physicians' obligations to third parties and to society as a whole deserve ethical weight, and that stewardship of scarce resources is one such obligation. We differ in two basic ways.

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