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December 2018

Microethics of Communication—Hidden Roles of Bias and Heuristics in the Words We Choose

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Division of Hematology and Oncology, Washington University, St Louis, Missouri
  • 2Department of Oncology, St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee
  • 3Division of Quality of Life and Palliative Care, St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee
JAMA Pediatr. 2018;172(12):1115-1116. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.3111

Crucial ethical issues [arise] in those clinical decisions which at first sight appear to be the simplest and most straightforward.

Paul Komesaroff, Troubled Bodies: Critical Perspectives on Postmodernism, Medical Ethics, and the Body1(p67)

Dr Jones summons the parents from the 5-year-old patient’s room to share the news and talk about next steps. They follow Dr Jones to the conference room and sit across from him, noticing the box of tissues on the table. Their eyes watch him intently for any clue of what he will say. “As we talked about before, the imaging showed a lesion on his adrenal gland and spots in his lungs. The pathology has returned as metastatic neuroblastoma. This is a tough disease to treat, but we have many options, and we are aiming for a cure.”

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