Columns

From the category archives: Gordon Self

Gordon Self

Slam the brakes on distracted driving

Gordon Self

September 26, 2011

Alberta's new Distracted Driver Legislation came into effect Sept. 1. It is now illegal to use hand-held cell phones, text, manually input GPS data, read, write or engage in personal grooming while driving.

Alberta has one of the toughest laws in Canada, joining other provinces in clamping down on the growing trend of inattentive drivers behind the wheel.

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We deserve a caring end of life journey

Gordon Self

August 29, 2011

In my ethics classes I often tell "the grizzly bear story," illustrating how our outlook on life can change when confronted by new information or experiences.

A hospital social worker once went hiking in the mountains with her son and sister. The son was a park ranger and knew all the backcountry trails. They decided to tackle a grueling hike but, despite being physically fit, the sisters huffed and puffed trying to keep up with the younger son.

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Imagination crucial in respecting dignity

Gordon Self

July 25, 2011

One memorable event I witnessed in hospital many years ago involved a patient who suffered a stroke and was left with severe expressive aphasia. He could only utter, "yes" to questions, requiring careful interpretation if his "yes" really meant "no."

Assuming he was comfortable and didn't need pain medication, for example, underscored the risk of misinterpreting his intended meaning.

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Technology often pushes ethical boundaries

Gordon Self

July 4, 2011

Earlier this month Covenant Health held its biannual ethics conference, entitled, Great Expectations? The allusion to Charles Dickens' masterpiece comes to mind, for the world of health care ethics today represents how both the "sun shines hot and the wind blows cold."

Ongoing advances in technology have created new possibilities, tempered, like a cold wind, by new ethical conundrums.

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Caregivers should heed deep yearnings in patients' requests

Gordon Self

May 30, 2011

There is a saying in ethics that people might have capacity for making decisions, but have poor judgment. Anyone having raised teenagers will know the truth of this statement, perhaps recalling some of their children's past decisions when good judgment was lacking.

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We are responsible for our own health

Gordon Self

April 25, 2011

I have seen a growth in public service announcements over the years promoting physical fitness and health. The ParticipACTION commercials of the early '70s (that is, Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod of BodyBreak) stand out in my memory among the first, followed by anti-smoking cartoons, agricultural producers endorsements, UV Index reports and consumer tips based on Canada's Food Guide.

While these all serve to educate Canadians about healthy lifestyle choices, proponents of preventive medicine argue more can be done to wake people up that you and I — not doctors, or "the health care system" — are ultimately responsible for our health.

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Face it — there is no such thing as a free lunch

Gordon Self

March 28, 2011

In this column I raise everyday ethical issues. Occasionally, unique ethical quandaries trigger reflection as in last month's column around boundary setting without judging or abandoning people living with addictions.

But certainly all of us can relate to managing another moral boundary — accepting gifts that come with strings attached. In this case, how do we ensure gift-giving practices do not cause us to abandon our own integrity?

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Upholding boundaries can take guts

Gordon Self

February 28, 2011

A group of leaders in Catholic health care gathered recently to discuss many challenging ethical issues they face — ones that provide no easy solutions. For example, they spoke of how to respond to overwhelming health and social needs associated with those living on the streets when the IV drug user, homeless person, gang member or street worker suddenly finds themselves a patient in our facilities. more . . .

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Dollar driven choices cannot trump ethics

Gordon Self

January 31, 2011

This month's column will coincide with the arrival of credit card statements in the mail. After the spending spree of Christmas the reality of what we now owe follows. For some, January bills can serve as a wake up call as to their total debt load, which may require immediate corrective action. more . . .

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Create ethical cultures in all relationships

Gordon Self

December 27, 2010

The long running television series M*A*S*H depicted the antics of medical personnel coping with the stress of overseas military service, often playing practical jokes on each other. more . . .

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