Postmortem procedures in the emergency department: using the recently dead to practise and teach

Journal of Medical Ethics 19 (2):92-98 (1993)
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In generations past, it was common practice for doctors to learn lifesaving technical skills on patients who had recently died. But this practice has lately been criticised on religious, legal, and ethical grounds, and has fallen into disuse in many hospitals and emergency departments. This paper uses four questions to resolve whether doctors in emergency departments should practise and teach non-invasive and minimally invasive procedures on the newly dead: Is it ethically and legally permissible to practise and teach non-invasive and minimally invasive procedures on the newly dead emergency-department patient? What are the alternatives or possible consequences of not practising non-invasive and minimally invasive procedures on newly dead patients? Is consent from relatives required? Should doctors in emergency departments allow or even encourage this use of newly dead patients?



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