The nature and limits of the physician's professional responsibilities constitute core topics in clinical ethics. These responsibilities originate in the physician's professional role, which was first examined in the modern English-language literature of medical ethics by two eighteenth-century British physician-ethicists, John Gregory and Thomas Percival. The papers in this annual clinical ethics number of the Journal explore the physician's professional responsibilities in the areas of surgical ethics, matters of conscience, and managed care.
The influence of physician judgment on the disclosure, competency, understanding, voluntariness, and decision aspects of informed consent for bone marrow transplantation are described. Ethical conflicts which arise from the amount and complexity of the information to be disclosed and from the barriers of limited time, patient anxiety and lack of prior relationship between patient and physician are discussed. The role of the referring physician in the decision-making is considered. Special ethical issues which arise with use of healthy related bone (...) marrow donors are discussed, as is the physician's discretion in raising questions of competency. It is concluded that in this setting, regardless of the theoretical goals of the physician, patients appear to utilize informed consent discussions to assess their capacity to trust the physician rather than as a time to weigh the large amount of relevant data. The conscientious physician best serves the patient with recommendation of the best medical alternative rather than with attempts to remain neutral. (shrink)
We all know that doctors accept gifts from drug companies, ranging from pens and coffee mugs to free vacations at luxurious resorts. But as the former Editor-in-Chief of The New England Journal of Medicine reveals in this shocking expose, these innocuous-seeming gifts are just the tip of an iceberg that is distorting the practice of medicine and jeopardizing the health of millions of Americans today. In On the Take, Dr. Jerome Kassirer offers an unsettling look at the pervasive payoffs that (...) physicians take from big drug companies and other medical suppliers, arguing that the billion-dollar onslaught of industry money has deflected many physicians' moral compasses and directly impacted the everyday care we receive from the doctors and institutions we trust most. Underscored by countless chilling untold stories, the book illuminates the financial connections between the wealthy companies that make drugs and the doctors who prescribe them. Kassirer details the shocking extent of these financial enticements and explains how they encourage bias, promote dangerously misleading medical information, raise the cost of medical care, and breed distrust. Among the questionable practices he describes are: the disturbing number of senior academic physicians who have financial arrangements with drug companies; the unregulated "front" organizations that advocate certain drugs; the creation of biased medical education materials by the drug companies themselves; and the use of financially conflicted physicians to write clinical practice guidelines or to testify before the FDA in support of a particular drug. A brilliant diagnosis of an epidemic of greed, On the Take offers insight into how we can cure the medical profession and restore our trust in doctors and hospitals. (shrink)
Background: Medical tourism involves patients travelling internationally to receive medical services. This practice raises a range of ethical issues, including potential harms to the patient's home and destination country and risks to the patient's own health. Medical tourists often engage the services of a facilitator who may book travel and accommodation and link the patient with a hospital abroad. Facilitators have the potential to exacerbate or mitigate the ethical concerns associated with medical tourism, but their roles are poorly understood. -/- (...) Methods: 12 facilitators were interviewed from 10 Canadian medical tourism companies. -/- Results: Three themes were identified: facilitators' roles towards the patient, health system and medical tourism industry. Facilitators' roles towards the patient were typically described in terms of advocacy and the provision of information, but limited by facilitators' legal liability. Facilitators felt they played a positive role in the lives of their patients and the Canadian health system and served as catalysts for reform, although they noted an adversarial relationship with some Canadian physicians. Many facilitators described personally visiting medical tourism sites and forming personal relationships with surgeons abroad, but noted the need for greater regulation of their industry. -/- Conclusion: Facilitators play a substantial and evolving role in the practice of medical tourism and may be entering a period of professionalisation. Because of the key role of facilitators in determining the effects of medical tourism on patients and public health, this paper recommends a planned conversation between medical tourism stakeholders to define and shape facilitators' roles. (shrink)
Sports physicians are continuously confronted with new biotechnological innovations. This applies not only to doping in sports, but to all kinds of so-called enhancement methods. One fundamental problem regarding the sports physician's self-image consists in a blurred distinction between therapeutic treatment and non-therapeutic performance enhancement. After a brief inventory of the sports physician's work environment I reject as insufficient the attempts to resolve the conflict of the sports physician by making it a classificatory problem. Followed by a critical (...) assessment of some ideas from the US President's Council on Bioethics, the formulation of ethical codes and attempts regarding a moral topography, it is argued that the sports physician's conflict cannot be resolved by the distinction between therapy and enhancement. Instead, we also have to consider the possibility that the therapy-based paradigm of medicine cannot do justice to the challenges of the continuously increasing technical manipulability of the human body and even our cognitive functions as well. At the same time we should not adhere to transhumanist ideas, because non-therapeutic interventions require clear criteria. Based on assistive technologies an alternative framework can be sketched that allows for the integration of therapeutic and non-therapeutic purposes. After a thorough definition of standards and criteria, the role of the sports physician might be defined as that of an assistant for enhancement. Yet the process of defining such an alternative framework is a societal and political task that cannot be accomplished by the sports physicians themselves. Until these questions are answered sports physicians continue to find themselves in a structural dilemma that they partially can come to terms with through personal integrity. (shrink)
Background Following passage of the Patient Self Determination Act in 1990, health care institutions that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding are required to inform patients of their right to make their health care preferences known through execution of a living will and/or to appoint a surrogate-decision maker. We evaluated the impact of external factors and perceived patient preferences on physicians’ decisions to honor or forgo previously established advance directives (ADs). In addition, physician views regarding legal risk, patients’ ability to comprehend (...) complexities involved with their care, and impact of medical costs related to end-of-life care decisions were explored. Methods Attendees of two Mayo Clinic continuing medical education courses were surveyed. Three scenarios based in part on previously court-litigated matters assessed impact of external factors and perceived patient preferences on physician compliance with patient-articulated wishes regarding resuscitation. General questions measured respondents’ perception of legal risk, concerns over patient knowledge of idiosyncrasies involved with their care, and impact medical costs may have on compliance with patient preferences. Responses indicating strength of agreement or disagreement with statements were treated as ordinal data and analyzed using the Cochran Armitage trend test. Results Three hundred eighty-eight of 951 surveys were completed (41% response rate). Eighty percent reported they were likely to honor a patient’s AD despite its 5 year age. Fewer than half (41%) would honor the AD of a patient in ventricular fibrillation who had expressed a desire to “pass away in peace.” Few (17%) would forgo an AD following a family’s request for continued resuscitative treatment. A majority (52%) considered risk of liability to be lower when maintaining someone alive against their wishes than mistakenly failing to provide resuscitative efforts. A large percentage (74%) disagreed that patients could not appreciate complexities surrounding their care while 69% agreed that costs should never impact a physician’s decision as to whether to comply with a patient’s AD. Conclusions Our findings highlight the impact, albeit small, external factors have on physician AD compliance. Most respondents based their decision on the clinical situation at hand and interpretation of the patient’s initial wishes and preferences expressed by the AD. (shrink)
Background -- Overview of legal sources -- Summary of recent prosecutions and investigations -- Applications of law and professional and trade association standards to physician relationships with industry -- Legal and ethical aspects of specific physician's industry financial relationships -- Approaching and adopting effective compliance plans.
In response to physicians who refuse to provide medical services that are contrary to their ethical and/or religious beliefs, it is sometimes asserted that anyone who is not willing to provide legally and professionally permitted medical services should choose another profession. This article critically examines the underlying assumption that conscientious objection is incompatible with a physician’s professional obligations (the “incompatibility thesis”). Several accounts of the professional obligations of physicians are explored: general ethical theories (consequentialism, contractarianism, and rights-based theories), internal morality (...) (essentialist and non-essentialist conceptions), reciprocal justice, social contract, and promising. It is argued that none of these accounts of a physician’s professional obligations unequivocally supports the incompatibility thesis. (shrink)
Although the traditional physician ethic sees nothing objectionable about the doctor's influence over patients, superficial conceptions of the patient's right to self-determination imply that this influence may be manipulative. On the contrary, there are several different lines of argument which can reconcile self-determination with the physician's influence. Nevertheless, drawing the boundaries between legitimate methods of persuasion, and manipulation or coercion sometimes proves difficult.
The debate over futility is driven, in part, by physicians' desire to recover some measure of decision-making authority from their patients. The standard approach begins by noting that certain interventions are futile for certain patients and then asserts that doctors have no obligation to provide futile treatment. The concept of futility is a complex one, and many commentators find it useful to distinguish ‘physiological futility’ from ‘qualitative futility’. The assertion that physicians can decide to withhold physiologically futile treatment generates little (...) controversy. The claim that they can withhold qualitatively futile treatment runs afoul of standard objections to medical paternalism. There is reason to believe that the conceptual distinction will not be maintained in clinical practice. This paper contends that the scientific data which would support a physician's unilateral decision to withhold physiologically futile treatment also provide support for an institutional policy restricting access to the treatment. The data the doctor uses to take decision-making power out of the hands of the patient can be used by the administrator to take power out of the hands of the doctor. While this loss of power is unproblematic, there is reason to believe that the ambiguity in the term ‘futility’ will allow a much greater loss of physicians' power. Keywords: futility, physician authority CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
This article comments on the treatment of critical-care ethics in four preceding articles about critical-care medicine and its ethical challenges in mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, and the Philippines. These articles show how cultural values can be in both synchrony and conflict in generating these ethical challenges and in the constraints that they place on the response of critical-care ethics to them. To prevent ethical conflict in critical care the author proposes a two-step approach to the ethical jus tification of (...) critical-care management: (1) the decision to resuscitate and initiate critical-care management, which is based on the obligation to prevent imminent mortality without permanent loss of consciousness; and (2) the decision to continue critical-care management, which is based on the obligation both to prevent imminent death without permanent loss of consciousness and to avoid unnecessary, significant iatrogenic costs to the patient and psychosocial costs to the family when the reduction of morta lity risk is marginal. Physicians and hospitals should restore the critical-care physician's authority and power - against prevailing cultural values, if necessary - to control when critical-care intervention is offered, when it is recommended to continue, and when it is recommended to be discontinued and the patient allowed to die. (shrink)
In reference to two central concepts of Albert Camus' philosophy, that is, the absurd and the rebellion, this article examines to what extent hisThe Plague is of interest to medical ethics. The interpretation of this novel put forward in this article focuses on the main character of the novel, the physician Dr. Rieux. For Rieux, the plague epidemic, as it is described in the novel, implies an unquestioning commitment to his patients and fellow men. According to Camus this epidemic has (...) to be understood as a symbol of the absurd. Unable to base his actions on a Christian, metaphysical value system, Rieux sees his commitment as a continuous rebellion against the fact of the absurd, which opposes him in the form of evil, suffering and death. As a physician, Rieux is therefore forced to adjust his actions to life in its immediacy, that is, the suffering of his patients. In this article, it will be shown that Rieux's attention to the immediate is of particular interest to medical ethics: Theother person in need, rather thanmy moral convictions, sets the norm. (shrink)
Decision making is a key activity, perhaps the most important activity, in the practice of healthcare. Although physicians acquire a great deal of knowledge and specialised skills during their training and through their practice, it is in the exercise of clinical judgement and its application to individual patients that the outstanding physician is distinguished. This has become even more relevant as patients become increasingly welcomed as partners in a shared decision making process. This book translates the research and theory from (...) the science of decision making into clinically useful tools and principles that can be applied by clinicians in the field. It considers issues of patient goals, uncertainty, judgement, choice, development of new information, and family and social concerns in healthcare. It helps to demystify decision theory by emphasizing concepts and clinical cases over mathematics and computation. (shrink)
A physician's lack of humanity is a general complaint in public surveys. The physician-patient relationship is viewed by the public as being reduced to a business relationship where the patient feels that she is merely a 'client' and the physician a healthcare 'practitioner' instead of a 'care giver'. This public perception is not a phenomenon that is peculiar to Lebanon. Yet, the problem has been increasing over the years to the extent that patients feel that physicians are becoming inhumane (...) and business oriented. While this might not characterize all physicians of the 21 st century, this might be true of at least some. Responses were collected from a study that was undertaken based on a questionnaire distributed to a pool of 650 participants from different geographical areas and different social and educational backgrounds in Lebanon. Participants were all older than18 years and mentally competent. None were physicians. The questionnaire was open-ended and initially piloted among a random sample. The physician traits most desired by the public were found to be: moral traits (41%), interpersonal traits (36%), scientific traits (19%) and other (4%). The most unwanted traits/behaviours were a lack of interpersonal traits (57%), a lack of moral traits (40%) and a lack of scientific skills (3%). The physician-patient relationship was perceived, in general, as being a flawed one. What can be done to remedy the image of the Lebanese physician that has been projected in the minds of the patients and the public at large? Nine major recommendations are presented. (shrink)
Since 1998, physician-assisted suicide has been legal in the American state of Oregon. In this paper, I defend Oregon’s physician-assisted suicide (PAS) law against two of the most common objections raised against it. First, I try to show that it is not intrinsically wrong for someone with a terminal disease to kill herself. Second, I try to show that it is not intrinsically wrong for physicians to assist someone with a terminal disease who has reasonable grounds for wanting to kill (...) herself. (shrink)
A review of the literature was conducted to better understand the (potential) role of mental health professionals in physician-assisted suicide. Numerous studies indicate that depression is one of the most commonly encountered psychiatric illnesses in primary care settings. Yet, depression consistently goes undetected and undiagnosed by nonpsychiatrically trained primary care physicians. Noting the well-studied link between depression and suicide, it is necessary to question giving sole responsibility of assisting patients in making end-of-life treatment decisions to these physicians. Unfortunately, the (...) use of mental health consultation by these physicians is not a common occurrence. Greater involvement of mental health professionals in this emerging and debated area is advocated. Beyond describing mental health professionals' role in the assessment of patient competency or decision making capacity, other areas of potential involvement are described. A discussion of ethical principles relevant to this area follows, along with comments on the training necessary to adequately serve patient needs. (shrink)
The various statements and declarations of the World Medical Association that address conflicts of interest on the part of physicians as (1) researchers, and (2) practitioners, are examined, with particular reference to the October 2000 revision of the Declaration of Helsinki. Recent contributions to the literature, notably on conflicts of interest in medical research, are noted. Finally, key provisions of the American Medical Association’s Code of Medical Ethics (2000–2001 Edition) that address the various forms of conflict of interest that can (...) arise in the practice of medicine are outlined. (shrink)
The following article is a response to the position paper of the Hastings Center, "Ethical Challenges of Chronic Illness", a product of their three year project on Ethics and Chronic Care. The authors of this paper, three prominent bioethicists, Daniel Callahan, Arthur Caplan, and Bruce Jennings, argue that there should be a different ethic for acute and chronic care. In pressing this distinction they provide philosophical grounds for limiting medical care for the elderly and chronically ill. We give a critical (...) survey of their position and reject it as well as any attempt to characterize the physician-patient relationship as a commercial contract. We emphasize, as central features of good medical practice, a commitment to be the patient's agent and a determination to acquire and be guided by knowledge. These commitments may sometimes conflict with efforts to have the physician serve as an instrument of social and economic policies limiting medical care. Keywords: acute, agent, autonomy, chronic, knowledge, obligations, rights CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
The prevailing wisdom is that improving patient access to physician services is essential to promoting the public's health. This article suggests that, ironically, one effect of the 2010 federal health reform legislation may be to discourage physicians from serving the statute's intended beneficiaries, thereby exacerbating the access problem. The article examines several potential approaches to addressing this problem, comparing — from legal and policy perspectives — strategies based on legal conscription of physician services versus strategies that instead would rely on (...) incentivizing physician participation in serving otherwise access-impaired populations. The author argues in favor of the latter approach rather than one based on use of governmental force. (shrink)
: Dr. Smith is an internist in private practice who works at an inner city clinic affiliated with a university hospital. He is also a member of the university faculty. Many of Dr. Smith’s patients have type 2 diabetes mellitus and struggle with health care and other costs. Thinking about opportunities to better serve his patients and advance his career, Dr. Smith considers conducting clinical research in his office. ACME is a respected pharmaceutical company that for decades has engaged in (...) research, development, and production of widely used drugs. Several of ACME’s oral agents for type 2 diabetes will soon go off patent. In an effort to retain its market share in this class of drugs, ACME wants to complete clinical trials expeditiously and obtain approval for its new oral hypoglycemic medicine. The company approaches Dr. Smith to be a coinvestigator in its multicenter clinical trial. (shrink)
This paper looks at the ambiguities which PAS (physician assisted suicide) and voluntary active euthanasia (VAE ) present to the patient, his or her loved ones and the health-care team. The author pleads for a greater emphasis on humanizing the experience of the dying so that a team can meet their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
This article is a rebuttal to Kevin Smith's ‘Against Homeopathy,’ which was posted on 14 February 2011.1 It contends that his argument rests entirely on the assumption that homeopathic remedies are nothing but placebos. His argumentation is good, but his assumption is false. Evidence is presented to show that the Law of Similars is plausible and that ultradilute remedies do indeed have biological activity.
In this companion volume to their 1981 work, A Philosophical Basis of Medical Practice, Pellegrino and Thomasma examine the principle of beneficence and its role in the practice of medicine. Their analysis, which is grounded in a thorough-going philosophy of medicine, addresses a wide array of practical and ethical concerns that are a part of health care decision-making today. Among these issues are the withdrawing and withholding of nutrition and hydration, competency assessment, the requirements for valid surrogate decision-making, quality-of-life (...) determinations, the allocation of scarce health care resources, medical gatekeeping, and for-profit medicine. The authors argue for the restoration of beneficence (re-interpreted as beneficence-in-trust) to its place as the fundamental principle of medical ethics. They maintain that to be guided by beneficence a physician must perform a right and good healing action which is consonant with the individual patient's values. In order to act in the patient's best interests, or the patient's good, the physician and patient must discern what that good is. This knowledge is gained only through a process of dialogue between patient and/or family and physician which respects and honors the patient's autonomous self-understanding and choice in the matter of treatment options. This emphasis on a dialogical discernment of the patient's good rejects the assumption long held in medicine that what is considered to be the medical good is necessarily the good for this patient. In viewing autonomy as a necessary condition of beneficence, the authors move beyond a trend in the medical ethics literature which identifies beneficence with paternalism. In their analysis of beneficence, the authors reject the current emphasis on rights- and duty-based ethical systems in favor of a virtue-based theory which is grounded in the physician-patient relationship. This book's provocative contributions to medical ethics will be of great interest not only to physicians and other health professionals, but also to ethicists, students, patients, families, and all others concerned with the relationship of professional to patient and patient to professional in health care today. (shrink)
I argue for compatibility between feminism and medicine by developing a model of the physician-other relationship which is essentially egalitarian. This entails rejection of (a) a paternalistic model which reinforces sex-role stereotypes, (b) a maternalistic model which exclusively emphasizes patient autonomy, and (c) a model which focuses on the physician's conscience. The model I propose (parentalism) captures the complexity and dynamism of the physician-other relationship, by stressing mutuality in respect for autonomy and regard for each other's interests.
I. Introduction Siris, Berkeley's last major work, is undeniably a rather odd book. It could hardly be otherwise, given Berkeley's aims in writing it, which are three-fold: 'to communicate to the public the salutary virtues of tar-water,'1 to provide scientific background supporting the efficacy of tar-water as a medicine, and to lead the mind of the reader, via gradual steps, toward contemplation of God.2 The latter two aims shape Berkeley's extensive use of contemporary natural science in Siris. In particular, Berkeley's (...) focus on what he calls fire (or aether or light) as a quasiuniversal 'cause' of natural change3 serves these purposes, for the 'activity' of the aether, in his view, can both explain the miraculous virtues of a certain medicine, i.e. tar-water, and reveal God's action and his divine order.4 Berkeley's corpuscular speculations, including his use of fire-theory, are not especially idiosyncratic as natural philosophy. In his theorizing, as Jessop and other have noted, he is heavily indebted to the work of Hermann Boerhaave, the Dutch chemist, botanist, and physician whose teachings were highly influential in mid-eighteenth century Britain.5 Boerhaave, along with other Dutch natural philosophers cited by Berkeley, assigned a central role in accounting for physio-chemical activity to fire, a subtle, insensible particulate substance, sometimes identified with light. (shrink)
Euthanasia and physician assisted-suicide are terms used to describe the process in which a doctor of a sick or disabled individual engages in an activity which directly or indirectly leads to their death. This behavior is engaged by the healthcare provider based on their humanistic desire to end suffering and pain. The psychiatrist's involvement may be requested in several distinct situations including evaluation of patient capacity when an appeal for euthanasia is requested on grounds of terminal somatic illness or when (...) the patient is requesting euthanasia due to mental suffering. We compare attitudes of 49 psychiatrists towards euthanasia and assisted suicide with a group of 54 other physicians by means of a questionnaire describing different patients, who either requested physician-assisted suicide or in whom euthanasia as a treatment option was considered, followed by a set of questions relating to euthanasia implementation. When controlled for religious practice, psychiatrists expressed more conservative views regarding euthanasia than did physicians from other medical specialties. Similarly female physicians and orthodox physicians indicated more conservative views. Differences may be due to factors inherent in subspecialty education. We suggest that in light of the unique complexity and context of patient euthanasia requests, based on their training and professional expertise psychiatrists are well suited to take a prominent role in evaluating such requests to die and making a decision as to the relative importance of competing variables. (shrink)
Scientific authority and physician authority are both challenged by Thomas Kuhn's concept of incommensurability. If competing "paradigms" or "world views" cannot rationally be compared, we have no means to judge the truth of any particular view. However, the notion of local or partial incommensurability might provide a framework for understanding the implications of contemporary philosophy of science for medicine. We distinguish four steps in the process of translating medical science into clinical decisions: the doing of the science, the appropriation of (...) the scientific findings by the clinician, the transfer of the findings from the clinician to the patient, and the choice of a treatment regimen. Incommensurability can play a role in each stage. There is at least some theory- and value-ladenness in science that is dependent on the world view of those who construct the scientific theories. Clinicians who must use the results of scientific research will inevitably interpret the research from the standpoint of their own world view. There may be further incommensurability when these data are communicated to the patient. Finally, clinician and patient values must come into play in any decision about choice of treatment. No stage of medical research or practice is value-free. This position does not imply relativism; some scientific accounts are better than others. However, the challenge of the incommensurabilists shows that further analysis is needed to establish how particular accounts are better or worse. Keywords: incommensurability, Kuhn, paradigm, relativism, realism, world view, fact/value distinction CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
The concept of medicine as a profession in the English-language literature of medical ethics is of recent vintage, invented by the Scottish physician and medical ethicist, John Gregory (1724-1773). Gregory wrote the first secular, philosophical, clinical, and feminine medical ethics and bioethics in the English language and did so on the basis of Hume's principle of sympathy. This paper provides a brief account of Gregory's invention and the role that Humean sympathy plays in that invention, with reference to key (...) texts in Gregory's work. The paper also considers two interesting and perhaps provocative ways in which Hume can be read through Gregory: first, sympathy as a principle of scientific discovery in Hume's science of man and moral physiology; and sympathy as gendered feminine in Hume's moral philosophy. Hume's principle of sympathy is at the core of Gregory's medical ethics and the histories of Western medical ethics and bioethics pivot on Gregory - and, therefore, on Hume - as it does on few other figures. (shrink)
The paper begins by tracing the historical development of American medicine as practice, profession, and industry from the eighteenth century to the present. This historical outline emphasizes shifting conceptions of physicians and physician ethics. It lays the basis for showing, in the second section, how contemporary controversies about the physician’s role in managed care take root in medicine’s past. In the final two sections, I revisit both the historical analysis and its application to contemporary debates. I argue that historical (...) narratives can function as “master narratives” that suppress or leave out historical facts. I bring to the surface what is covered up by the master narrative approach, and show its relevance to contemporary ethical debates. I conclude by proposing that preserving the integrity of medicine will require modifying the master narratives we tell about physicians. The integrity of medicine also offers new perspectives for thinking about managed care and the broader topic of health care reform. (shrink)
In June 2001, the American Medical Association (AMA) issued a revised and expanded version of the Principles of Medical Ethics (last published in 1980). In light of the new and more comprehensive document, the present essay is geared to consideration of a longstanding tension between physician's autonomy rights and societal obligations in the AMA Code. In particular, it will be argued that a duty to treat overrides AMA autonomy rights in social emergencies, even in cases that involve personal risk (...) to physicians (e.g., bioterrorist attack, HIV infection, SARS). The argument will be made by way of the logic and language of the AMA Code through its history, commentaries, and precedents. It also will be shown that there are substantial reasons to believe that the logic of the Code is sound in morally relevant ways. The essay will conclude with some philosophical proposals suggesting a framework for the duty to render aid and the extension of those duties to physicians facing personal risks. (shrink)
Two factors are discussed which have important implications for the issue of paternalism in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU): the physician'srole as advocate for the patient; and the range of typical responses of parents who learn that their neonate has a serious illness. These factors are pertinent to the task of identifying those actions which are paternalistic, as well as to the question of whether paternalism is justified. It is argued that certain behavior by physicians which (...) is often thought to be paternalistic is not in fact so. Furthermore, an argument in defense of paternalism which has largely been overlooked is presented. Examples are given to illustrate how paternalism actually arises in the NICU, and it is argued that paternalism is justified in some cases. (shrink)
We consider the moral and social ingredients in physicians' relationships with patients of diminished capacity by considering certain claims made about friendship and the physician'srole. To assess these claims we look at the life context of two patients as elaborated examples provided in two novels: Woman on the Edge of Time (1976) by Marge Piercy, a radical feminist; and It's Hard to Leave While the Music's Playing (1977) by I. S. Cooper, a prominent physician-researcher. At issue is (...) how the doctor-patient relationship should be structured. In question is whether the physician's friendship and professional expertise, together with the diminished capacity of the patient, authorize medical paternalism. From our examination, we find compelling insights against appealing to friendship both in good doctor-patient relationships and in more typical, not-so-good ones. (shrink)
Gesundheit and colleagues offer dramatic examples of the medical treatment of terrorists but then pose the suggestion that those who engage in terrorism forfeit their right to medical care, and, consequently, that physicians have no obligation to treat them. Their argument presupposes that a physician’s obligation to provide medical care depends on the patients’ right to health care. Therefore, someone who commits heinous and abhorrent acts thereby waives the right to health care and the physicians’ duty to provide health care (...) might consequently be absolved. This view may appeal to physicians who have experienced the complexity and discomfort of treating someone whose morality or even humanity they question, such as a rapist, a serial killer, or a perpetrator of genocide. However we have grounds to believe that the duty of physicians to treat is not based on the moral worth of patients, but rather on the duties that physicians have, and this notion renders any concern about the unacceptability of any person’s behavior irrelevant in determining whether to provide treatment. We will first argue that not all duties are directly derived from rights, and then illustrate how deontological views, along with common views on the role morality of physicians, provide a basis for offering indiscriminate medical care. Second, we will discuss the physician’s role in the context of war, and offer one compelling moral reason on the basis of which warfare norms do indeed obligate physicians to extend their duty to care toward enemies, terrorists included, independently of whatever right they maintain. (shrink)
Central to much medical ethical analysis is the concept of the role of the physician. While this concept plays an important role in medical ethics, its function is largely tacit. The present paper attempts to bring the concept of a social role to prominence by focusing on an historically recent and rather richly contextured role, namely, that of consultation liaison psychiatry. Since my intention is primarily theoretical, I largely ignore the empirical studies which purport to develop (...) the detailed functioning of the role. My limited intent is to draw attention to the theoretical complexity of the consultation liaison role as an example of the general relevance of role concepts to medical ethics. For this reason, consultation liaison psychiatry will function as an illustration of fundamental concepts of medical ethics rather than as a subject of analysis in its own right. Similarly, the concept of the social role will be developed only as is necessary to explore the general relationship between the consultation liaison role and ethical analysis. Keywords: medical ethics, consultation liaison psychiatry, social role, autonomy, institution CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
Few studies exist which look at psychological factors associated with physician sexual misconduct. In this study, we explore family dysfunction as a possible risk factor associated with physician sexual misconduct. Six hundred thirteen physicians referred to a continuing medical education (CME) course for sexual misconduct were administered the FACES-II survey, a validated and reliable measure of family dynamics. The survey was part of a self-learning activity. We collected data from February 2000 to February 2009. Participants were predominantly white, middle-aged males (...) who represented the full range of medical specialties. Their results were compared against a sample of 177 physicians. The FACES-II is a self-report test that measures family of origin (the family in which one was raised) dynamics on two dimensions (1) flexibility, ranging from too flexible (chaotic) to not flexible enough (rigid) and (2) cohesion ranging from too close (enmeshed) to not close enough (disengaged). The most common family pattern observed among physicians accused of sexual misconduct was rigid flexibility paired with disengaged cohesion, indicative of unhealthy family functioning. This pattern was significantly different than the pattern observed in the comparison group. Physicians who engage in sexual misconduct are more likely to have family of origin dysfunction. Ethics is developmental and learned in one’s family of origin. Family of origin dynamics may be one risk factor predisposing one to ethical violations. These findings have important implications for screening, education, and treatment across the medical education continuum. (shrink)
Relationships between self-ratings and expectations of an ideal U.S. president, were studied in 43 men drawn from a university setting in the eastern coast of the U.S.A. The men first rated themselves on personality variables, life choices (agentic and communal), peacefulness, spirituality, and morality. Then they were presented with a vignette requesting that they describe an ideal U.S. president on inventories measuring personality variables, life choices, peacefulness, spirituality, and morality. For the rating of the ideal U.S. president, they also were (...) asked to respond to a 20 item questionnaire that was a composite of several factors on organization and leadership, morality, spirituality, and peacefulness. The respondents belonged to one of seven different political persuasions, similar in some ways to different cultures. Self-ratings of the men and expectations of the president were highly correlated for extraversion, openness, trait morality, agentic and communal life choices. However, no significant correlations were found between the self-ratings and expectations of the president for neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, peacefulness, nor state morality. The men were also presented with vignettes for the ideal physician and ideal automechanic and asked to rate each of them on the inventory items. Overall, the U.S. President was rated as more neurotic and immoral in terms of ingrained ideas of right and wrong, but also as more caring for others, transcendent, seeking goodness and truth, forgiving, cooperative, and most concerned with matters of justice and mercy, and more concerned with both agentic (power-seeking) and communal (community-minded) life choices than were either the ideal physician or ideal automechanic. The ideal physician was rated as highest in extra-version, openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and overall peacefulness, and lowest in neuroticism. The ideal automechanic was rated as highest in state or situational immorality, and lowest in both agentic (power-seeking, business-mindedness) and communal (community-mindedness) life choices, and also lowest in caring for others well-being, transcendence, seeking goodness and truth, forgiveness and cooperation, being concerned with justice and mercy, overall expectations, overall spirituality, and overall organization and leadership. In general, the self-ratings were significantly related to ratings/expectations, of the U.S. President, ideal physician, and ideal automechanic. The men seemed to identify more with the automechanic than with the present or physician. (shrink)
This paper argues that we have wrongly and not for the patient’s benefit made a form of stark autonomy our highest value which allows physicians to slip out from under their basic duty which has always been to pursue a particular patient’s good. In general – I shall argue – it is the patient’s right to select his or her own goals and the physician’s duty to inform the patient of the feasibility of that goal and of the means needed (...) to attain it. If the goal is not one that is possible, the patient, with the physician and family, must select a feasible goal and then discuss the costs/benefits of various approaches. The physician should take a leading role in helping the patient select the goal. I argue that to simply present a laundry list of means and insist that patients choose for themselves is not only abandoning patients to their autonomy but is, in fact, a crass form of violating the patient’s autonomy. Freely choosing not to choose is a choice a patient with decisional capacity is entitled to make and one that needs to be respected. (shrink)
What role should the physician's conscience play in the practice of medicine? Much controversy has surrounded the question, yet little attention has been paid to the possibility that disputants are operating with contrasting definitions of the conscience. To illustrate this divergence, we contrast definitions stemming from Abrahamic religions and those stemming from secular moral tradition. Clear differences emerge regarding what the term conscience conveys, how the conscience should be informed, and what the consequences are for violating one's conscience. (...) Importantly, these basic disagreements underlie current controversies regarding the role of the clinician's conscience in the practice of medicine. Consequently participants in ongoing debates would do well to specify their definitions of the conscience and the reasons for and implications of those definitions. This specification would allow participants to advance a more philosophically and theologically robust conversation about the means and ends of medicine. (shrink)
The thesis of the paper is that For Profit Hospitals are morally inappropriate health care delivery institutions. The thesis is established first by elaborating on the beneficent nature of medicine, hospitals, and the physician/patient relationship. The primary obligation of the physician, who draws on the resources of medicine and the hospitals, is to restore personal autonomy that is diminished by illness and suffering within the constraints of the canon of loyalty that frames the physician patient relationship. Hospitals have historically played (...) the role of facilitator enhancing a physician's ability to administer treatment. Next it is argued that For Profit Hospitals may neglect the role of facilitator. This neglect may occur given the institutions' motivations to return a profit to investors by exploiting the patient/physician relationship. This exploitation is clearly shown to be contrary to the canon of loyalty that ought to exist between the patient and physician. (shrink)
In order to appreciate the role of the phenomenon of shame in the context of the clinic – both as normal self evaluation and as neurotic response – a philosophical anthropological description of shame is offered. Not only are Biblical metaphors recast, but more recent phenomenological psychological descriptions taken from Max Scheler and others are cited. These necessarily require some account of the patient's body in shame, taken from both his perspective and the physician's. In short, the corporeality (...) of shame is constituted as "ce que enveloppe le corps". Keywords: Shame, Behavior CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
Robert Veatch has claimed that virtue theory is not only irrelevant but potentially dangerous in medical ethics. I argue that virtue is a far more prominent factor in contemporary medical practice than Veatch admits. Even if ‘stranger medicine’ is taken as the norm, proper conduct on the part of physicians depends on certain character traits in order to be maintained consistently over a long period of time and in situations which run counter to the physician's own interests. Right conduct, (...) which Veatch argues is the central moral issue in the physician-patient relationship, is intertwined with certain virtues. Moreover, the virtue of integrity and the concept of a unified lifenarrative are especially useful in analyzing an important factor missing in modern medicine. And since medicine relies necessarily on some concept of human flourishing I argue that virtue theory can play a central role in helping to determine the goals of medical practice. Keywords: virtue, right conduct, character, competence, life-narrative, specialization, human flourishing CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
The current legal framework within the Lithuanian health system is described including a review of the physician’s autonomy, rights and duties, and patients’ rights including the right to reimbursement. The role of ethical codes and the law are discussed.