Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (PAS) by request and/or based on an advance directive are legal in The Netherlands under strict conditions, thus providing options for patients with Huntington's disease (HD) and other neurodegenerative diseases to stay in control and choose their end of life. HD is an inherited progressive disease characterised by chorea and hypokinesia, psychiatric symptoms and dementia. From a qualitative study based on interviews with 15 physicians experienced in treating HD, several ethical issues emerged. Consideration of these aspects (...) leads to a discussion about the professional role of a physician in relation to the personal autonomy of a patient. Such a discussion can raise awareness that talking about end-of-life wishes with an HD patient is part of the legal, professional and moral responsibility of the physician, and that a letter of intent on behalf of the physician can improve active participation in the process. Discussion of these issues can help to advance the debate on euthanasia and PAS in HD and other neurodegenerative diseases. (shrink)
Responsibility for the protection of human research subjects is shared by investigators, research ethics committees, sponsors/funders, research institutions, governments and, the focus of this article, physicians who enrol patients in clinical trials. The article describes the general principles of the patient-physician relationship that should regulate the participation of physicians in clinical trials and proposes guidelines for determining when and how such participation should proceed. The guidelines deal with the following stages of the trial: when first considering participation, when deciding whether (...) to enrol patients, when asking patients to participate, when the trial is underway and when it is completed. (shrink)
While many "benchtop-to-bedside" research pathways have been developed in "Type I" translational medicine, vehicles to facilitate "Type II" and "Type III" translation that convert scientific data into clinical and community interventions designed to improve the health of human populations remain elusive. Further, while a high percentage of physicians endorse the principle of citizen leadership, many have difficulty practicing it. This discrepancy has been attributed, in part, to lack of training and preparation for public advocacy, time limitation, and institutional resistance. As (...) translational medicine and physician-citizenship implicate social, political, economic and cultural factors, both enterprises require "integrative" research strategies that blend insights from multiple fields of study, as well as rhetorical acumen in adapting messages to reach multiple audiences. This article considers how argumentation theory's epistemological flexibility, audience attentiveness, and heuristic qualities, combined with concepts from classical rhetoric, such as rhetorical invention, the synecdoche, and ethos, yield tools to facilitate translational medicine and enable physician-citizenship. (shrink)
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)
Pediatric oncology has a strong research culture. Most pediatric oncologists are investigators, involved in clinical care as well as research. As a result, a remarkable proportion of children with cancer enrolls in a trial during treatment. This paper discusses the ethical consequences of the unprecedented integration of research and care in pediatric oncology from the perspective of parents and physicians.
We live in an age of “high tech” medicine which affects both health care recipients and physicians who are taught its many wonders and uses. It is easy in this atmosphere of specialization for clinicians, professors and medical students to become isolated and to ignore social issues which affect health care in its broadest sense.Individuals who are committed to the “common good” are the ones historically who have been effective change agents. It would be tragic simply to stand back and (...) allow the cynical and greedy to dominate any profession which deals with the poor, the uninsured and the homeless.It is imperative for physicians to take a broad view of today's problems in health care delivery systems, for they can have an enormous impact on the kind of world our children will inherit. It is essential for physicians to become involved in social concerns, and in improving health care delivery, at all levels in their practice.Given their power and prestige, it is crucial for physicians and aspiring physicians to have positive role models. Dr. Julius B. Richmond provides an admirable example of a physician who cares about his profession, his patients and his nation. Through his research, his public service and his teaching, Dr. Richmond has demonstrated the difference a single individual can make in improving the quality of life for all Americans. (shrink)
In a recent article entitled, Requests "for inappropriate" treatment based on religious beliefs, Orr and Genesen claim that futile treatment should be provided to patients who request it if their request is based on a religious belief. I claim that this implies that we should also accede to requests for harmful or cost-ineffective treatments based on religious beliefs. This special treatment of religious requests is an example of special pleading on the part of theists and morally objectionable discrimination against atheists. (...) It also provides an excellent illustration of how different the practices of religion and ethics are. (shrink)
Vor dem Hintergrund, dass in den Medien und der Öffentlichkeit thematisierte und dargestellte Arztbilder stets auch auf die öffentliche Meinung und die Vorstellungen der Menschen von Ärzten wirken, spürt der Artikel der Frage nach, welches Arztbild die amerikanische TV-KrankenhausserieDr. House transportiert und welche Ausprägung das dargestellte Arzt-Patienten-Verhältnis einnimmt. Hierbei werden die medizinethischen Reflexionen durch eine detaillierte medienwissenschaftliche Genre-Einordnung und dramaturgische Analyse eingerahmt und unterstützt. Zudem werden als Analyseinstrumentarium die vier Modelle des Arzt-Patienten-Verhältnisses nach Emanuel/Emanuel herangezogen. Dieser interdisziplinäre Forschungsansatz zeigt, dass (...) die Hauptfigur der Serie, der Arzt Dr. Gregory House, durchaus als Gegenentwurf einesmodernen Arztes, der fürsorglich, nicht-direktiv und stets im Sinne desinformed consent handelt, konzipiert und präsentiert wird. Doch ist daraus nicht zu schließen, dass die Figur des Dr. House einseitig als Paternalist gezeichnet ist. Die Kategorisierung und Einordnung des Dr. House und der von ihm repräsentierten Arzttugenden ist vielmehr entlangaller Elemente des gesellschaftlichen Arztideals vorzunehmen, zu denen eine entsprechende wissenschaftlich-medizinische Kompetenz, die Orientierung an objektivierbaren Indizien, die Verpflichtung auf das naturwissenschaftliche, evidenzbasierte Ideal, eine angenehme Kommunikation mit dem Patienten sowie die nötige, gebotene Aufklärung zählen. So wird in der Analyse deutlich, dass die Darstellung von Dr. House vielschichtiger ist und immer wieder auf ethische Dilemma-Situationen in der Medizin verweist. Diese wirkmächtige dramatisch-filmische Darstellung von Konfliktsituationen im diagnostisch-therapeutischen Kontext sollte daher auch in der kommunikationswissenschaftlichen Wirkungsforschung vertieft werden. (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)
A physician’s long-established right to refuse to provide a requested service based on his or her moral beliefs is being challenged. Some authors suggest that physicians should not be licensed if they are unwilling to provide all legal services. Others would grant them the right to refuse, but require them to refer to a willing professional. What are the limits of a physician’s right to refuse? When such a right is claimed on moral grounds, what residual obligations does the physician (...) have to the patient? How should the profession (or society) decide when a moral claim to a right to refuse is justified? (shrink)
The purpose of this study was to develop a Physician's Spiritual Well-Being Scale (PSpWBS). The significance of a physician's spiritual well-being was explored through in-depth interviews with and qualitative data collection from focus groups. Based on the results of qualitative analysis and related literature, the PSpWBS consisting of 25 questions was established. Reliability and validity tests were performed on 177 subjects. Four domains of the PSpWBS were devised: physician's characteristics; medical practice challenges; response to changes; and overall (...) well-being. The explainable total variance was 65.65%. Cronbach α was 0.864 when the internal consistency of the whole scale was calculated. Factor analysis showed that the internal consistency Cronbach α value for each factor was between 0.625 and 0.794 and the split-half reliability was 0.865. The scale has satisfactory reliability and validity and could serve as the basis for assessment of the spiritual well-being of a physician. (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)
Informed consent enjoys an unassailable position in both clinical and research situations as a safeguard of patients’ rights. Keeping the patient involved in the decision making process is easier when there is direct communication with the individual. The Pakistani milieu offers challenges to this process because crucial decision making is often done by family members or is left entirely up to the attending physician. There seems to be a general acceptance of this shifting of focus from the individual to other (...) players. This also raises certain ethical dilemmas for physicians who may feel uncomfortable with communication which excludes the patient or in accepting a paternalistic primary decision making role. The objective of this informal qualitative study was to ascertain physicians’ perceptions regarding the process of information delivery to the patient in the Pakistani context and the various influences acting upon it. (shrink)
Introduction US data reveal a Caesarean rate discrepancy between insured and uninsured patients, with the C-section rate highest among the privately insured. The data have prompted concern that financial incentives associated with insurance status might influence American physicians' decisions to perform Caesarean deliveries. Objective To determine whether differences in medical risk factors account for the apparent Caesarean rate discrepancy between Medicaid and privately insured patients in Michigan, USA. Method A retrospective review was performed of 617 269 live birth deliveries in (...) Michigan hospitals during 2004–8. All live birth records that were able to be linked to their mothers' hospital discharge records were utilised. Diagnosis-related group codes from the hospitalisation records were used to identify Caesarean deliveries. Regression models determined Caesarean probability for the time period under study, adjusted for insurance type, maternal age, race, maternal medical conditions, multiple births, prematurity and birth weight. Results From 2004 to 2008, Caesarean rates were 33% for privately insured patients and 29% for Medicaid patients. The probability of Caesarean delivery was significantly greater for privately insured than Medicaid patients on univariate analysis (OR 1.2, 95% CI 1.19 to 1.22) but not on multivariate analysis (adjusted OR 1.01, 95% CI 0.99 to 1.02). Conclusion No significant disparity was found in the odds of Caesarean delivery between privately insured and Medicaid patients in Michigan after adjusting for other Caesarean risk factors. A positive disparity would have provided de facto evidence that financial incentives play a role in physician decision-making regarding Caesarean delivery. (shrink)
This paper explores the role of religious belief in public debate about physician-assisted dying and argues that the role is essential because any discussion about the way we die raises the deepest questions about the meaning of human life and death. For religious people, such questions are essentially religious ones, even when the religious elements are framed in secular political or philosophical language. The paper begins by reviewing some of the empirical data about religious belief and practice in (...) the United States and Europe. It then explores the question of the proper role of religion in public policy debate and concludes with a discussion of the importance of religion and religious practices in considerations of how we die. (shrink)
AIM: To study the views on the acceptability of physician-assisted-suicide (PAS) of lay people and health professionals in an African country, Togo.\n\nMETHOD: In February-June 2012, 312 lay people and 198 health professionals (75 physicians, 60 nurses and 63 health counsellors) in Togo judged the acceptability of PAS in 36 concrete scenarios composed of all combinations of four factors: (a) the patient's age, (b) the level of incurability of the illness, (c) the type of suffering and (d) the patient's request for (...) PAS. In all scenarios, the patients were women receiving the best possible care. The ratings were subjected to cluster analysis and analyses of variance.\n\nRESULTS: Most lay people (59%) were not systematically opposed to PAS, whereas most health professionals (80%) were systematically opposed to it. The most important factors in increasing acceptability among people not systematically opposed were advanced age of the patient and incurability of the illness. Additional acceptability was provided by the patient's request to have her life ended, although much less so than in studies in Western countries, and by suffering characterised by complete dependence rather than by extreme physical pain.\n\nCONCLUSIONS: These empirical findings-the first ones gathered in the African continent-suggest that most Togolese lay people are not categorically for or against PAS, but judge its degree of acceptability as a function of concrete circumstances. (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)
Next SectionAnton Chekhov (1860-1904) dealt in many of his short stories and plays with various phenomena as encountered in everyday medical practice in late 19th century Russia. In A Case History (1898) Chekhov illustrates the physician's many positions in relation to his patient. According to Mikhail Bakhtin's philosophy of language, a speaker occupies a certain position from which he or she addresses the listener. A phenomenon may gain different meanings depending on the position from which it is addressed. In (...) his story Chekhov describes how the patient was at first addressed solely from a medical point of view, without any relief to her suffering. Only when the physician was able to shift his position in a manner which offered the patient an opportunity to be heard as a person was she able to express the true nature of her illness and to find new ways for palliation and cure. (shrink)
This article explores the disconnection between what pre-professional students expect from college and what their undergraduate education might foster, between the focus on “getting into medical school” and the development of humanistic physicians. It reviews the longstanding challenge inherent in helping pre-meds acquire not only sufficient scientific background but also well-developed interpersonal skills to help them understand patients’ experience of illness and their own interactions with other members of the health care team. Clinical experiences from the NEH Institute are interpreted (...) from the perspective of a pre-med advisor who also teaches literature; they are also incorporated into an undergraduate course on literature about illness. (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)
Background: Issues concerning legislation and regulation with respect to the role of nurses in euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide gave the Minister for Health reason to commission a study of the role of nurses in medical end-of-life decisions in hospitals, home care and nursing homes. Aim: This paper reports the findings of a study of the role of nurses in euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, conducted as part of a study of the role of nurses in medical end-of-life (...) decisions. The findings for hospitals, home care and nursing homes are described and compared. Method: A questionnaire was sent to 1509 nurses, employed in 73 hospitals, 55 home care organisations and 63 nursing homes. 1179 responses (78.1%) were suitable for analysis. The questionnaire was pilot-tested among 106 nurses, with a response rate of 85%. Results: In 37.0% of cases, the nurse was the first person with whom patients discussed their request for euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide. Consultation between physicians and nurses during the decision-making process took place quite often in hospitals (78.8%) and nursing homes (81.3%) and less frequently in home care situations (41.2%). In some cases (12.2%), nurses administered the euthanatics. Conclusions: The results show substantial differences between the intramural sector (hospitals and nursing homes) and the extramural sector (home care), which are probably linked to the organisational structure of the institutions. Consultation between physicians and nurses during the decision-making process needs improvement, particularly in home care. Some nurses had administered euthanatics, although this task is by law exclusively reserved to physicians. (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. (shrink)
Physicians vary in their moral judgments about health care costs. Social intuitionism posits that moral judgments arise from gut instincts, called “moral foundations.” The objective of this study was to determine if “harm” and “fairness” intuitions can explain physicians’ judgments about cost-containment in U.S. health care and using cost-effectiveness data in practice, as well as the relative importance of those intuitions compared to “purity”, “authority” and “ingroup” in cost-related judgments.
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.
Regina R. is a 12-year-old girl with recently diagnosed insulin-dependent diabetes. Before discharging her from the hospital, her family physician and consulting diabetes specialist try to instruct the girl and her parents in the appropriate program of treatment, including diet, insulin, and regular self-monitoring. However, the parents become upset when they learn what is involved in insulin treatment and inform the family physician they plan to employ the services of an alternative healing clinic that promises to cure their daughter with (...) a combination of herbal potions, macrobiotics, aroma therapy, therapeutic touch, Ayurveda, homeopathy, and guided imagery. (shrink)
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.