Informational emergency in the operating room: does it count as a right?

second opinion coverI found this exciting case in the book (yes, I am still reading those) of Lancet editor-in-chief Richard Horton called: Second Opinion: Doctors, Diseases and Decisions in Modern Medicine

“Surgery is all about action, not reflection. But information is sometimes critical, even in the operating room. In 2002, surgeons in Australia were working frantically to save the life of a critically injured man. One of the surgeons recalled that he had read an article in a medical journal that he was sure would help his team right there and then. The problem was that he could not remember which article. What could he do? A call was put out to the British Library archives. Although it was received at 3 AM British time, library staff were able to track down the 1996 paper in the European Journal of Emergency Medicine within twenty minutes and send it to the desperate Australian surgeons.”

What could be the answer today, in 2007 for that question: What could he do?

PubMed, Google Scholar, Connotea, CiteUlike?

Even if the surgeon found the title or abstract of the paper within seconds with one of these or other apps, would he/she be able to download the whole (copyrighted) content somehow within minutes too without an institutional subscription referring to informational and life emergency?

Could this exceptional information and life emergency be interpreted as a basic right with complementary duties? If yes, as a positive or negative right?What if a perfectly targeted Google app (call it Google Emergency) would be at hand, one that would be able to transiently abandon copyright issues for the sake of human help and solidarity?

2 thoughts on “Informational emergency in the operating room: does it count as a right?

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