Introduction to Clinical Ethics -7-

Standing by the Person you Face --- Share the Person's Concern

The ruleR1-2, i.e. standing by the patient in suffering also follows from the fact that to treat someone as a human being means to maintain truthful communication with that person, which is what R1-2 prescribes. In such communication, participants can have two different positions: facing each other and facing in the same direction. When the participants face each other, they exchange words and interact with each other. When the participants face the same direction, they share the same view, feelings, ideas, intentions, etc. One position alternates with the other during communication.

A patient in suffering is in great need of such communication. He needs someone who is face to face with him, takes care of him, and shares his suffering and awareness of death. The medical staff are therefore expected to stand by the patient as humane participants in such communication.

update: 15/August/2003

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