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Ethics Anyone?

Is it OK for a doctor to give a prisoner medications to induce paralysis, intubate his airway, place him on a ventilator, and perform a rectal examination to look for drugs? Is it OK to threaten a prisoner with the above actions in order to persuade him to consent to a rectal examination? Without a court order, is it OK for a doctor to do a rectal examination on a prisoner who does not consent? In the emergency department of a hospital in Tennessee the answer to all three of the above questions was “yes.” But a ruling by a US Court of Appeals overturned the man’s conviction for possession of crack cocaine with intent to sell because the acts of “paralysis, intubation, and rectal examination” were in clear violation of [his] Fourth Amendment rights. (page 18 of the ruling). The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches, and warrants must be based on probable cause. A lawyer representing the police blamed it all on the doctor, but the court ruled that he was “a tool” used by the police to search the man. One article said the doctor, an emergency medicine specialist, testified as follows, “That exam was going to occur with or without his consent.” At least one other victim, a man who was threatened with paralysis by the same doctor and consented to the search, has filed suit against the police. No drugs were found on that occasion. There was no emergency in either situation. There was plenty of time to obtain a warrant. Other options such as a plain x-ray of the abdomen and pelvis, could have...
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