It is well documented that the higher the socioeconomic status (SES) of patients, the better their health and life expectancy. SES also influences the use of health services—the higher the patients' SES, the more time and specialised health services provided. This leads to the following question: should clinicians give priority to individual patients with low SES in order to enhance health equity? Some argue that equity is best preserved by physicians who remain loyal to ‘ordinary medical fairness’ in non-ideal circumstances (...) when health disparities persist; ie, doctors should allocate care according to needs only and treat everyone with equal regard by being neutral with respect to patients' SES. This paper furthers a discussion of this view by questioning how equitable needs relate to SES. To clarify, it distinguishes between four versions of ‘healthcare need’ and approaches an acceptable conceptualisation of the notion supported by Norman Daniels' theory on health equity. It concludes that doctors should remain neutral to patients' SES in cases in which several patients require the same health care. However, equitable health care requires considerations of the impact of socioeconomic factors (SEF) on patients' capacity to benefit from the care. Remaining neutral towards patients' SES in this respect does not promote equal regard. It follows that priority setting on the basis of SEF is required in fair clinical distribution of care, eg, through allocating more time to patients with low SES. In order to advance equity accurately, the concept of ordinary medical fairness should be amplified according to this clarification. (shrink)
What are the criteria for reasonable clinical judgements? The reasonableness of macro-level decision-making has been much discussed, but little attention has been paid to the reasonableness of applying guidelines generated at a macro-level to individual cases. This paper considers a framework for reasonable clinical decision-making that will capture cases where relevant guidelines cannot reasonably be followed. There are three main sections. (1) Individual claims on healthcare from the point of view of concerns about equity are analysed. (2) The demands of (...) responsibility and equity on professional clinical performance are discussed, and how the combination of these demands emerges into seven requirements that constitute the framework is explored. Since this framework is developed to assist in reasonable clinical decision-making, practical implications of all these requirements are also suggested. (3) Challenges concerning the framework are discussed. First, a crucial presumption that the framework relies upon is considered—namely, clinicians’ willingness to justify their decisions as requested. Then how public deliberation may influence clinical decision-making is discussed. Next is a consideration of how clinicians’ need to have confidence in their own judgements in order to perform in a manner worthy of trust would be compatible with adherence to the framework supported by public deliberation. It is concluded that fair distribution in the interplay between macro- and micro-level considerations can be secured by legitimising procedures on each level, by ensuring well-organised and continuing public debate and by basing individual clinical judgements upon well-justified and principled normative bases. (shrink)
The beginning of the twentieth century saw the emergence of the discipline of genetics. It is striking how many female scientists were contributing to this new field at the time. At least three female pioneers succeeded in becoming professors: Kristine Bonnevie (Norway), Elisabeth Schiemann (Germany) and the Tine Tammes (The Netherlands). The question is which factors contributed to the success of these women's careers? At the time women were gaining access to university education it had become quite the norm (...) for universities to be sites for teaching and research. They were still expanding: new laboratories were being built and new disciplines were being established. All three women benefited from the fact that genetics was considered a new field promising in terms of its utility to society; in the case of Tammes and Schiemann in agriculture and in the case of Bonnevie in eugenics. On the other hand, the field of genetics also benefited from the fact that these first female researchers were eager for the chance to work in science and wanted to make active contributions. They all worked and studied in environments which, although different from one another, were positive towards them, at least at the start. Having a patron was generally a prerequisite. Tammes profited from her teacher's contacts and status. Bonnevie made herself indispensable through her success as a teacher and eventually made her position so strong that she was no longer dependent on a single patron. The case of Schiemann adds something new; it shows the vulnerability of such dependency. Initially, Schiemann's teacher had to rely on the first generation of university women simply because he was unable to attract ambitious young men to his institute. In those early, uncertain years of the new discipline, male scientists tended to choose other, better established, and more prestigious disciplines. However, when genetics itself had become an established field, it also became more attractive to men. Our case studies also demonstrate that a new field at first relatively open to women closes its doors to them once it becomes established. (shrink)
Kristin Andrews proposes a new framework for thinking about folk psychology, which she calls Pluralistic Folk Psychology. Her approach emphasizes kinds of psychological prediction and explanation that don't rest on propositional attitude attribution. Here I review some elements of her theory and find that, although the approach is very promising, there's still work to be done before we can conclude that the manners of prediction and explanation she identifies don't involve implicit propositional attitude attribution.
Kristin Shrader-Frechette: Taking Action, Saving Lives: Our Duties to Protect Environmental and Public Health Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-4 DOI 10.1007/s11948-011-9267-1 Authors Matthew Benjamin Reisman, Environmental Studies, The University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, USA Journal Science and Engineering Ethics Online ISSN 1471-5546 Print ISSN 1353-3452.
In this paper, I address some of the shortcomings of established clinical ethics centring on personal autonomy and consent and what I label the Doctrine of Respecting Personal Autonomy in Healthcare. I discuss two implications of this doctrine: 1) the practice for treating patients who are considered to have borderline decision-making competence and 2) the practice of surrogate decision-making in general. I argue that none of these practices are currently aligned with respectful treatment of vulnerable individuals. Because of 'structural arbitrariness' (...) in the whole process of how we assess decision-making competence, this area is open to disrespectful treatment of people. The practice of surrogate decision- making on the basis of a single person's judgment is arguably not consistent with ethical and political requirements derived from the doctrine itself. In response to the inadequacies of the doctrine, I suggest a framework for reasonableness in surrogate decision-making which might allow practice to avoid the problems above. I conclude by suggesting an extended concept of Patient Autonomy which integrates both personal autonomy and the regulative idea of morality that is required by reasonableness in deciding for non-competent others. (shrink)
There has been much discussion about how to obtain legitimacy at macro-level priority setting in health care by use of fair procedures, but how should we consider priority setting by individual clinicians or health workers at the micro-level? Despite the fact that just health care totally hinges upon their decisions, surprisingly little attention seems being paid to the legitimacy of these decisions. This paper addresses the following question: what are the conditions that have to be met in order to ensure (...) that individual claims on health care are well aligned with an overall concept of just health care? Drawing upon a distinction between individual and aggregated needs, I argue that even though we assume the legitimacy of macro-level guidelines, this legitimacy is not directly transferable to decisions at micro-level simply by adherence to the guidelines’ recommendation. Further, I argue that individual claims are subject to the formal principle of equality and the demands of vertical and horizontal equity in a way that gives context- and patient-related equity concerns precedence over equity concerns captured at the macro-level. I conclude that if we aim to achieve just health care, we need to develop a complementary framework for legitimising individual judgment of patients’ claims on health care resources. Moreover, I suggest the basic structure of such a framework. (shrink)
Clinical ethical support services (CESS) represent a multifaceted field of aims, consultancy models, and methodologies. Nevertheless, the overall aim of CESS can be summed up as contributing to healthcare of high ethical standards by improving ethically competent decision-making in clinical healthcare. In order to support clinical care adequately, CESS must pay systematic attention to all real-life ethical issues, including those which do not fall within the ‘favourite’ ethical issues of the day. In this paper we attempt to capture a comprehensive (...) overview of categories of ethical tensions in clinical care. We present an analytical exposition of ethical structural features in judgement-based clinical care predicated on the assumption of the moral equality of human beings and the assessment of where healthcare contexts pose a challenge to achieving moral equality. The account and the emerging overview is worked out so that it can be easily contextualized with regards to national healthcare systems and specific branches of healthcare, as well as local healthcare institutions. By considering how the account and the overview can be applied to i) improve the ethical competence of healthcare personnel and consultants by broadening their sensitivity to ethical tensions, ii) identify neglected areas for ethical research, and iii) clarify the ethical responsibility of healthcare institutions' leadership, as well as specifying required institutionalized administration, we conclude that the proposed account should be considered useful for CESS. (shrink)
Background Posthumous organ procurement is hindered by the consenting process. Several consenting systems have been proposed. There is limited information on public relative attitudes towards various consenting systems, especially in Middle Eastern/Islamic countries. Methods We surveyed 698 Saudi Adults attending outpatient clinics at a tertiary care hospital. Preference and perception of norm regarding consenting options for posthumous organ donation were explored. Participants ranked (1, most agreeable) the following, randomly-presented, options from 1 to 11: no-organ-donation, presumed consent, informed consent by donor-only, (...) informed consent by donor-or-surrogate, and mandatory choice; the last three options ± medical or financial incentive. Results Mean(SD) age was 32(9) year, 27% were males, 50% were patients’ companions, 60% had ≥ college education, and 20% and 32%, respectively, knew an organ donor or recipient. Mandated choice was among the top three choices for preference of 54% of respondents, with an overall median[25%,75%] ranking score of 3[2,6], and was preferred over donor-or-surrogate informed consent (4[2,7], p vs. 11[6,11], respectively, p = 0.002). Compared to females, males more perceived donor-or-surrogate informed consent as the norm (3[1,6] vs. 5[3,7], p vs. 8[4,9], p vs. 5[2,7], p Conclusions We conclude that: 1) most respondents were in favor of posthumous organ donation, 2) mandated choice system was the most preferred and presumed consent system was the least preferred, 3) there was no difference between preference and perception of norm in consenting systems ranking, and 4) financial (especially in females) and medical (especially in males) incentives reduced preference. (shrink)
Background In the context of limited health care budgets in countries where Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are endemic, scaling up disease control interventions entails the setting of priorities. However, solutions based solely on cost-effectiveness analyses may lead to biased and insufficiently justified priorities. Objectives The objectives of this paper are to 1) demonstrate how a range of equity concerns can be used to identify feasible priority setting criteria, 2) show how these criteria can be fed into a multi-criteria decision-making matrix, (...) and 3) discuss the conditions under which this decision-making procedure should be carried out in a real-world decision-making context. Methods This paper draws on elements from theories of decision analysis and ethical theories of fair resource allocation. We explore six typical NTD interventions by employing a modified multi-criteria decision analysis model with predefined criteria, drawn from a priority setting guide under development by the WHO. To identify relevant evidence for the six chosen interventions, we searched the PubMed and Cochrane databases. Discussion Our in vitro multi-criteria decision analysis suggested that case management for visceral leishmaniasis should be given a higher priority than mass campaigns to prevent soil-transmitted helminthic infections. This seems to contradict current health care priorities and recommendations in the literature. We also consider procedural conditions that should be met in a contextualised decision-making process and we stress the limitations of this study exercise. Conclusion By exploring how several criteria relevant to the multi-facetted characteristics of NTDs can be taken into account simultaneously, we are able to suggest how improved priority settings among NTDs can be realised. (shrink)
Summary Meteorology, a scientific discipline almost exclusively associated with weather forecasting in the first half of the twentieth century in the USA, was viewed with disdain by more mathematically based scientific communities. A descriptive science lacking in physical and mathematical rigor, meteorology was typically without an academic home in US colleges and universities. This stood in sharp contrast to the meteorological communities across the Atlantic which were supported by dedicated geophysical institutes. Four factors kept US meteorologists, unlike their European colleagues, (...) on the fringes of the scientific mainstream: a lack of ?rigor?, a lack of academic presence, a lack of patronage (governmental or private), and a pervasive public view that meteorological information was ?free? and yet should be tailored to a variety of users. The symbiotic relationship of these factors created an almost insurmountable hurdle to disciplinary advancement. That hurdle was effectively overcome in mid-century when the military demands of the Second World War presented meteorology with the opportunity to leave behind its legacy as a ?guessing science? and assume its place as a mathematically and physically based theoretical scientific discipline. (shrink)