Bad medicine or cultural difference?

According to an article in The Guardian, an Indian couple permitted their 15-year-old son to perform a Cesarean section in order to get in the Guinness Book of Records. I don’t have a lot to say about this, but I wanted to share it.

I think it is clear that permitting an untrained 15 year old perform surgery is unethical. I thought briefly that some might think it “cultural imperialism” to tell Indians how to conduct medicine, but I really have no evidence that Indians don’t find it as appalling as everyone else in the world. According to the article (quoting the Hindustan Times), when confronted with his actions, the doctor (the father of the “surgeon”) replied, “If a 10-year-old [in India] can drive a car and a 15-year-old can become a doctor in the US, what is wrong if my son, though not qualified, performs a surgery?” He answers his own question–if his son were 15 and qualified, the issue would be much more complicated. We might then be asking whether an otherwise qualified 15 year old can be mature enough to perform surgery, which raises all sorts of issues not present in the current case.

The parents now deny that their son performed the surgery, by the way, and claim instead that he only watched the operation. If it is proven he did perform the surgery, the parents could lose their licenses.

About ethicsbeyondcompliance

I hold a PhD in medical humanities with an major emphasis in ethics. I began teaching college-level ethics in 2000.
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2 Responses to Bad medicine or cultural difference?

  1. Drubicle says:

    “If a 10-year-old [in India] can drive a car and a 15-year-old can become a doctor in the US, what is wrong if my son, though not qualified, performs a surgery?” I completely agree with your stance. “though not qualified” is the deal breaker here. Based on the language he uses, He obviously knows that what he allowed his son to do was against his inherent sense of morality.

  2. Kiwi says:

    I think it’s up to the person on whom the child is operating, first and foremost. I don’t think it should be done for the purpose of breaking a record, but more for educational purposes. Also, I’m pretty certain not all the doctors qualified to operate on a human being in the US are much more qualified education-wise than the child in question. It’s interesting, how some people are able to get through college without learning a thing. And the things some students do learn from their classes are questionable.

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