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Shabbat Toranut for Radiologist

Rabbi Jonathan Blass15 Tevet 5764
603
Question
I am a physician in Radiology. Part of the obligation I have is for the Radiologist on call to be physically present in the hospital on Shabbat for about 7 or 8 hours of work starting in the morning. The hospital is 10 miles from my house. As a radiologist, I may read many studies which are non life threatening before coming across one where my reading changes patient care and therefore fits in with concepts of Pikuach Nefesh. Please advise on the following: 1) Driving to the hospital (there is no on call facility in this hospital; there is no where to stay nearby)(Also, staying away from home is a burden on my wife and two young children). Am I in violation by driving? I am aware of no alternative. 2) Dictating with a cassette recorder is the method of transcription of my reports. I must also write the results of the CT scans and ultrasounds on every case. It "feels" like a violation every time I dictate a negative report (i.e. the non life threatening cases). Am I in violation?
Answer
1. In a situation where you know in advance that you will be required for Pikuach Nefesh to drive to Shabbat, it is permitted to remain at home on Shabbat until the time that your Toranut begins. 2. You should minimize the activities in transcription that- in a non-medical situation- would be a Chilul Shabbat. Can the cassette recorder be left on all of Shabbat? Is it voice activated? Can you write your report on a computer that is left on all Shabbat and only print out the results on Motzei Shabbat? If you have no alternative but to write, you should use your left hand (unless you're left handed, in which case you should use your right hand). Recording your results even when they are negative is also connected to Pikuach Nefesh- it is not merely clerical. A negative result should assist in a proper diagnosis and treatment of whatever made the patient complain in the first place.
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