Ethics & law
Could my patient be a terrorist?
Marika Davies, a medicolegal adviser, gives advice on some common ethical dilemmas faced by medical students
This is a sensitive issue, and it is important to tread carefully. Although media coverage has highlighted the problem of individuals going abroad to take part in terrorist related activity, it does not necessarily follow that this is the intent in this instance.
In this situation, you must pass on the reported information to one of the GPs at the practice, so that they can decide what action is appropriate. Making decisions about how to handle sensitive situations like this is challenging, even for experienced doctors, and you are not expected to carry the burden of making such a decision yourself. It is also a valuable learning opportunity for you to discuss the unusual circumstances of this particular dilemma.
If the GP has concerns about this patient’s reasons for travelling abroad, he or she can make further inquiries, and the information can then be considered in the context of their