The Doctor's Dilemma


The play also mentions (then) new developments in the germ theory of disease, namely opsonins, and included socialist and anti-vivisectionist viewpoints. Specifically, it could be considered as advocating a National Health Service, such as was created in Britain four decades later - since a doctor who is employed by the state and gets a fixed salary for treating whoever needs medical attention would not face the dilemma discussed in the foreword.

The theme of the play remains current: in any time, there will be treatments that are so scarce or costly that some people can have them while others cannot. Who is to decide, and on which grounds is the decision to be taken?

It is sometimes claimed that an unexpected side-effect of the play's success was to greatly increase the popularity of the first name "Jennifer" (the name of the main female protagonist) in the English-speaking world. However, UK government statistics (covering England and Wales) only show the name 'Jennifer' first entering the top 100 most commonly used names for baby girls in 1934—a full 28 years after the play was first staged. As well, the name didn't enter the top 1,000 names for newborn US girls until 1938.

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