Gallows humor in a hospital may not be appropriate when applied to an individual patient who has just met a tragic end, but it can be beneficial if it allows doctors and medical staff to get past a difficult moment and be at their best for the next patient. It also helps if they feel remorse about it later.
Outliers: She's your go-to gal for ethical humor
That's not necessarily a legal opinion, but it was an opinion expressed in a National Public Radio commentary by Katie Watson, an attorney and assistant professor of medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine and a member of the Northwestern Memorial Hospital Ethics Committee.
Watson recently appeared at two Chicago Humanities Festival events, one discussing gallows humor and another with comedian and director of “The Aristocrats” documentary Paul Provenza, in which they talked about whether it matters if humor offends. She also opined in a recent New York Times piece about whether vegetarian patients or those who don't eat pork for religious reasons should be told in advance that the heparin they are about to be given comes from pigs. (Yes, Watson says, because this piece of information could lead someone to make a different decision.)
An instructor at Chicago's famed Second City improv comedy training center, Watson also has created improvisational theater seminar programs for medical students to help teach doctor-patient communication. Outliers would like to know if she knows any good jokes about reporters.
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