U.S. torture doctors and psychologists

Duty To Disobey

In the name of mission priorities or security, superiors may hold fast to orders that violate health professional ethics and standards of good care.

Is a military doctor ethically required to disobey when:

A. ordered to threaten a prisoner with injection of a psychoactive drug that will not actually be administered.

B. ordered to inject a harmless bolus of saline to a prisoner who fears he is receiving a lethal injection.

C. ordered to inject a lethal drug into a prisoner.

D. All of the above

E. None of the above

Adapted from J. Wesley Boyd, et al, (2007) http://www.baywood.com/hs/ijhs374.pdf

Show Answer:

Answer D. All of the Above

In a survey of students in 8 US medical schools*:

66.1% correctly answered D. All of the above (must be disobeyed according to the Geneva Convention)

More than 27% incorrectly answered C Only (must disobey only the order to inject lethal drug)

More than 6% incorrectly answered E. None of the above (must be disobeyed, including order to inject lethal drug)

* J. Wesley Boyd, et al, (2007) U.S. Medical Students’ Knowledge about the Military Draft, the Geneva Conventions, and Military Medical Ethics. International Journal of Health Services, vol 37, No. 4, pp. 643-650