Dr Tom Kerns
North Seattle Community College


Discussion Questions
for Lisa Belkin's
First Do No Harm
(Ballantine, 1993)

In answering these questions, note the questions that have subparts a), b), etc. If the question is phrased in subparts, your answer should come in the same subparts.

Please post your answer to each of these questions in a separate message in the Class Discussions folder in the classroom. That should make it easier for people to read and respond to them.

  1. On p114, about half way through a chapter titled "Patrick," a paragraph begins "Patrick's emotional addiction to Hermann...." Would you say that Patrick was actually “addicted to” being in the hospital, as is implied throughout the next 2-3 pages? Please explain your answer.
  2. In the chapters titled "The Cost of Care" (pp 160-81 and 224-28). Do you think that the hospital ethics committee should allow financial considerations to be brought to bear on questions about whether to continue or terminate treatment? Please explain your answer.
  3. Cf. the chapter titled "Taylor" (pp 189-211). Do you think that Taylor’s ventilator should be disconnected or not? Please explain your answer.
  4. See the paragraph that begins at the bottom of p 226 and goes over onto p 227 (about half way through the second chapter titled "The Cost of Care"). “Hermann could not make moral judgments about who deserved treatment.” Do you think the hospital ethics committee should make judgments about who deserves treatment?
  5. cf. pp 259-61, about 1/3 of the way into a chapter titled "The Committee." Do you think that Lin should have signed the ethics committee form requiring the surgical placement of a jejunostomy? Please explain your answer.
  6. In the chapters about Landon (273-79, 285-97, 304-20) we see that Claire and Kenny had trouble getting pregnant, that when she did get pregnant the placenta ruptured in the sixth month, that the birth was premature, and that Landon was born with severe spina bifida and potential brain damage. Notice whether, in those chapters, there is any history of Kenny and Claire (and therefore Landon) being exposed to environmental toxics. a) From what sources? b) Did any physicians take note of or report such exposures (NB the case history given on pp 305-6, 1-2 pages into a chapter titled "The Committee")?