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Baby Doe regulations and medical judgment


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  • York, Glyn Y.
  • Gallarno, Robert M.
  • York, Reginald O.
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    The potential for conflict between social policy and medical judgment can be examined in relation to the 'Baby Doe' regulations issued by the U.S. Federal Government in 1984. These regulations identify the circumstances in which medical treatment may be withheld from handicapped infants. This article reports on a national survey of perinatal social workers which compared their responses to the answers of physicians to similar questions published earlier. These social workers failed to express a conflict between sound medical judgment and the federal regulations when confronted with three hypothetical cases. The same was true in the published study of physicians but that was erroneously interpreted as providing evidence of a conflict between medical judgment and federal regulations. On some general opinion statements, the social workers were similar to physicians in their criticism of these regulations but on others they were equivocal. While the majority of responses of social workers to other questions about these regulations was rather similar to the responses of physicians, the social workers were found to be more inclined than physicians to express the view that these regulations were needed to protect the rights of handicapped infants and the view that the physician's practice had been changed as a result of these regulations.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 30 (1990)
    Issue (Month): 6 (January)
    Pages: 657-664

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:30:y:1990:i:6:p:657-664

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