Upstate News

September 30, 1998
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

SUNY symposium Oct. 14 to examine the ethical responsibilities health care professionals face in the wake of alternative medicine

The ethical responsibilities health care professionals face in treating an American public finding more favor with alternative medicine will be examined in the Sixth Annual Ethics Symposium sponsored by the State University of New York Health Science Center Wednesday, Oct. 14.

“Alternative Approaches to Healing: Ethical Responsibilities of Health Care Professionals” will be presented from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Medical Alumni Auditorium of Weiskotten Hall. The symposium is free and open to the public.

The symposium will feature three lectures and a real-life case study dramatized by a Health Science Center physician and medical student.

“Recent studies have found that more and more Americans are seeking alternative health care and they’re not telling their physicians about it,” said Steve Allen Jr., M.D., associate professor of medicine at the SUNY Health Science Center, who will present “What’s Going on in Alternative Medicine.”

In addition to Dr. Allen, presenters include Jan Coy, associate professor of physical therapy in the Health Science Center’s College of Health Professions, who will present “The Ethical Terrain” and Fred Frohock, professor of political science at Syracuse University, who will present “The State, the Practitioners and the Patients.”

Kathy Faber-Langendoen, M.D., the Health Science Center Medical Alumni Endowed Professor in Bioethics, and Reauelle King, a fourth-year medical student at the Health Science Center’s College of Medicine, will dramatize a real-life case study, “Lucy Grafton: A Doctor’s Dilemma.”

In the study, patient Grafton, fearing that chemotherapy would harm her immune system, chooses vitamins, herbal teas and enemas to treat her cancer.

“When patients reject conventional medicine for alternative medicine, physicians face all sorts of ethical questions,” said Dr. Faber-Langendoen. “At one point, the patient asked me to do a special blood test to prove her immune system was getting better. But her tumor was obviously growing. As physicians do we just do what our patients ask of us? Do we abandon a patient who is no longer being treated as we suggest? How far do we go with a patient like this?”

The questions posed by Dr. Faber-Langendoen will be addressed during the discussion portion of the symposium, which will be led by Robert W. Daly, M.D., professor of psychiatry and medicine and chair of University Hospital’s Ethics Committee.

As part of the symposium, a poster session will be held in the Weiskotten Hall lobby.

For more information on the Ethics Symposium, call 464-4836.

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