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Cirujano general

Print version ISSN 1405-0099


CAMPOS, Alberto. The elderly surgeon and the scalpel of Damocles. Cir. gen [online]. 2016, vol.38, n.3, pp.167-174.  Epub Mar 31, 2020. ISSN 1405-0099.

Different metaphors apply to the elderly, which are in part adequate but incomplete. They do not properly describe their personal situation in the face of their decline, their life that is over, their project pending. In the surgeon this situation is special, because in aging not only his professional practice, but the consequences on his patients are at stake. Several dilemmas are addressed; the first, as The Sword of Damocles, a metaphor that fits his problem well. Seen as a dilemma, he must decide whether to stand before the operating table with the sword upon his head, or retire, and both options have serious consequences for his future. The second, as a pendulum, the decision between an altruism exacerbated by an increasingly unfavorable economic and social panorama, and the selfishness of self-care against the demands of the other. One is synchronous, the other diachronic. The surgeon may want to take care of himself to become old, under the risk of not fulfilling and no longer being able to consummate what he aspired for, or he may be entirely devoted to the exercise of his art, at the risk of his morbidity and mortality. The dilemma is threefold; between the others and his, between now and tomorrow, between contemplation and action.

Keywords : Elderly; surgeon; dilemma; moral judgment; bioethics.

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