02/26/2013 03:45 EST | Updated 04/28/2013 05:12 EDT

Alberta Health; Queue-Jumping Not Black And White Says Expert

CALGARY - An expert in bioethics says queue-jumping in the health system is never a black-and-white issue.

Dr. Lynette Reid of Dalhousie University says doctors and other caregivers often have to resolve conflicts between personal compassion and community responsibility.

Reid was giving expert testimony to Alberta's Preferential Access Inquiry, which is looking to determine if there is queue-jumping going on in the provincial system.

The inquiry has heard testimony of an informal system of doctors or nurses giving the odd helping hand to family, friends, or associates.

Reid says it's understandable that these people would want to help those closest to them and that ethical dilemma is compounded by a system struggling to otherwise treat people in a timely manner.

One doctor has testified that he sees friends and family on his off hours, so as not to bump any other patients — but admits that this process still moves those patients ahead of others if subsequent help is required.

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