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January 09, 2007

Dilemma

Watching E.R. tonight, I was wondering something. Two doctors who had just attended a funeral heard about a shooting at their hospital and some of their colleagues in life-threatening situations. So they decide to cancel their day off and rush to the hospital to help out.

The rest of the show we only see wounded doctors and nurses taken care of by their colleagues. Meanwhile, standard patients are queueing up outside or diverted to other hospitals.

Anyway, that’s not what I was wondering.

I was thinking, suppose you’re capable of saving someone’s life, but you have to chose between the average UK citizen (decide for yourself what this entails) and a brain surgeon. You have no emotional attachment to either patient. Who would you attend first?

My scary thought is that rationally, I cannot find a way to decide to prioritize the average citizen. The even more scary thought was not that the brain surgeon could probably save lives and do great things. No, instead, I thought how much money had been spent on this person to become a brain surgeon in the first place, and how less taxing he (or she) probably is going to be on society.

*sigh* I’m never gonna sleep tonight


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