RE: More is Better (was RE: another puzzle)

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Fri, 01 Jul 2005 10:41:29 +1000

Jonathan Cilvin writes:

> > Yet another variation: for 10 million dollars, would you
> > agree to undergo a week of excruciating pain, and then have
> > the memory of the week wiped? What if you remember agreeing
> > to this 100 times in the past; that is, you remember agreeing
> > to it, then a moment later experiencing a slight
> > discontinuity, and being given the ten million dollars (which
> > let's say you gambled all away). You were told every time you
> > would experience pain, but all you experienced was being
> > given the money. Would it be tempting to agree to this again
> > ("and this time, I'll put the money in the bank")?
>I've sometimes wondered whether some anaesthetics might work this way: put
>you into a state of paralysis, and affect your short term memory. So you
>actually experience the doctor cutting you open, with all the concommitant
>pain, but you can't report it at the time and forget about it afterwards.
>you knew an anaesthetic worked that way, would you agree to have it used on
>you for surgery?

I've thought about exactly this while sitting for hours as the assistant
anaesthetist during long operations! In fact, we know that in some cases it
is exactly what happens. If the anaesthetic is "underdone" and the patient
starts moving when the surgeon starts cutting, it is possible that the
patient will remember being in terrible pain after he wakes up, and sue the
anaesthetist. Therefore, if an incident like this occurs, the anaesthetist
gives the patient a bolus of IV midazolam, which usually ensures that the
patient has no memory of the incident, and everyone is happy. I wonder what
a court would say if the patient somehow found out what had happened and
decided to sue anyway, arguing that although he couldn't remember it, he
must have been in excruciating pain, and therefore deserves compensation for
the suffering caused by the doctor's negligence?

--Stathis Papaioannou

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Received on Thu Jun 30 2005 - 20:44:57 PDT

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