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March 6, 1978

A Legacy of Osler: Teaching Clinical Ethics at the Bedside

Author Affiliations

From the Section of General Internal Medicine, University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, Chicago.

JAMA. 1978;239(10):951-956. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03280370047023

The teaching of clinical medicine at the bedside is an enduring legacy of the Oslerian revolution in American education. The advantages of teaching clinical ethics at the bedside include dealing with actual cases to maximize personal accountability, reinforcing the relationship between technical competence and ethical decisions, involving the entire health care team, and possibly decreasing the resistance of the medical profession to formal medical ethics.

The proposal to teach clinical ethics at the bedside is intended to indicate a primary role for ethicists and clinicians at different stages in the medical curriculum. During the preclinical years of medical school, ethicist-philosophers, assisted by clinicians, should assume primary responsibility for teaching medical ethics. During the clinical years, physicians, assisted by clinically informed ethicist-philosophers, should accept the primary obligation to teach clinical ethics at the bedside.

(JAMA 239:951-956, 1978)