This research investigates the impact of various factors on ethical behavior of 180 not-for-profit hospital employees. Ethical behavior of peers, ethical behavior of successful managers, and emotional intelligence had a significant positive impact on ethical behavior of respondents. Physicians and hospital employees with political connections within the organization were significantly less ethical than other employees. The results have many implications for researchers and healthcare practitioners.
Role morality can be defined as “claim(ing) a moral permission to harm others in ways that, if not for the role, would be wrong” (A. Applbaum: 1999, Ethics for Adversaries: The Morality of Roles in Public and Professional Life (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ) p. 3). Adversarial situations resulting in role morality occur most frequently in the fields of law, business, and government. Within the realm of accounting, professional obligations may place the accountant in a situation where he/she is susceptible (...) to the pressures of role morality. If the accountant engages in acts consistent with role morality, significant harm to others may result. The current study represents an initial investigation into role morality in accounting and includes survey data from three samples of professionals: accountants, physicians, and attorneys. Results suggest that accountants generally do not agree that role morality is acceptable. Additionally, when compared to the groups of physicians and attorneys, physicians agree the least with role morality, while attorneys agree the most. Implications for practicing accountants and suggestions for future research into the theory of role morality are offered. (shrink)
Conflicts of interest are rampant in the American medical community. Today it is not uncommon for doctors to refer patients to clinics or labs in which they have a financial interest (40% of physicians in Florida invest in medical centers); for hospitals to offer incentives to physicians who refer patients (a practice that can lead to unnecessary hospitalization); or for drug companies to provide lucrative give-aways to entice doctors to use their "brand name" drugs (which are much more (...) expensive than generic drugs). In Medicine, Money and Morals, Marc A. Rodwin draws on his own experience as a health lawyer--and his research in health ethics, law, and policy--to reveal how financial conflicts of interest can and do negatively affect the quality of patient care. He shows that the problem has become worse over the last century and provides many actual examples of how doctors' decisions are influenced by financial considerations. We learn how two California physicians, for example, resumed referrals to Pasadena General Hospital only after the hospital started paying $70 per patient (their referrals grew from 14 in one month to 82 in the next). As Rodwin writes, incentives such as this can inhibit a doctor from taking action when a hospital fails to provide proper service, and may also lead to the unnecessary hospitalization of patients. We also learn of a Wyeth-Ayerst Labs promotion in which physicians who started patients on INDERAL (a drug for high blood pressure, angina, and migraines) received 1000 mileage points on American Airlines for each patient (studies show that promotions such as this have a direct effect on a doctor's choice of drug). Rodwin reveals why the medical community has failed to regulate conflicts of interest: peer review has little authority, state licensing boards are usually ignorant of abuses, and the AMA code of ethics has historically been recommended rather than required. He examines what can be learned from the way society has coped with the conflicts of interest of other professionals --lawyers, government officials, and businessmen--all of which are held to higher standards of accountability than doctors. And he recommends that efforts be made to prohibit and regulate certain kinds of activity (such as kickbacks and self-referrals), to monitor and regulate conduct, and to provide penalties for improper conduct. Our failure to face physicians' conflicts of interest has distorted the way medicine is practiced, compromised the loyalty of doctors to patients, and harmed society, the integrity of the medical profession, and patients. For those concerned with the quality of health care or medical ethics, Medicine, Money and Morals is a provocative look into the current health care crisis and a powerful prescription for change. (shrink)
The purpose of this study was to examine the role of physicians on HEC including structural and process features. Four committees were selected from among 12 volunteering to participate with 12 sessions observed. Power analysis (0.8) confirmed an adequate number of communication exchanges, and no statistical significant difference (p < 0.05) among two prior surveys affirmed the sample. Data collection included established questionnaires and communication analyses with a tested method. Results revealed physician presence was robust and similar to prior (...) reports on HEC structure; however, physicians rated their role effectiveness lower than other occupations and lower than overall committee effectiveness. Communication exchanges representing process revealed three positive communication types, and consistent attempts to aid committee functions through consensual processes that also were substantiated by non-physician members. Findings suggested more attention to both structural and process functions of HEC and their members. (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.
OBJECTIVES: The level of evidence-based practice (EBP) and awareness has not been previously assessed among primary care physicians in Kuwait. The objectives of this study were to quantify the level of EBP and awareness in Kuwait and identify the factors related to EBP. METHOD: We used a cross sectional study that enrolled 332 primary care physicians in 57 primary care centres randomly chosen in Kuwait. A self-administered questionnaire was used to collect the data with a response rate of (...) about 93%. RESULTS: Although half of the physicians self reported that they use EBP most of the time, further analysis revealed that only about 24% of this group had a reasonable understanding of EBP. Most of the clinical practice in the Kuwaiti primary care system seems to be based on the clinician's own judgment or what they learned in the medical school and traditional text books, rather than evidence-based sources. None of the physicians had an Internet connection at their work place and a vast majority of them had no access to international journals nor were confident about critical appraisal of published evidence. CONCLUSION: Overall level of awareness of evidence-based medicine (EBM) among primary care physicians in Kuwait was considerably low. Training in the areas of EBM as well as making sure the Kuwaiti primary care centres have access to evidence-based sources are critically important if primary care in Kuwait were to become evidence based. (shrink)
BackgroundContemporary medical practice is complicated by many dilemmas requiring ethical sensitivity and moral reasoning.ObjectiveTo investigate physicians’ experience in ethical decision-making and their attitude towards ethics consultation.MethodsIn a cross-sectional survey 126 physicians representing the main clinics of Pleven University hospital were investigated by a self-administered questionnaire. The following variables were measured: occurrence, nature and ways of resolving ethical problems; physicians’ attitudes towards ethics consultation; physicians’ opinions on qualities and skills of an ethics consultant, and socio-demographic characteristics. Data (...) analysis included descriptive statistics, χ2 and t-test.ResultsResponse rate was 88.9% (n = 112). Men and women were equally represented (48.2%–51.8%). The sample consisted of experienced physicians: 42.9% had 11–20 years experience, and 33% had 21–30 years. According to 84.8% of respondents, ethical problems have been discussed in their specialty. Predominant dilemmas included relationships with patients and relatives (76.8%) and team work (67.6%). Over ¾ of physicians needed an advice in solving ethical problems. Ninety six percent responded positively to ethics consultation. They would mainly request it for resolving conflicts (72.5%), and in case of concern for the rightness of their decisions (52.7%). The image of an ethics consultant was built of clinical competence (70.9%), ability to deal with conflicts (59.1%), communication skills (58.2%), tolerance for different views (55.4%), and a special qualification in ethics (52.7%).ConclusionsThe study underlined that Pleven University hospital physicians face similar ethical dilemmas as their colleagues in other countries do. The expressed positive attitudes to ethics consultation should serve as a basis for further research and development of ethics consultation services. (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.
Introduction: Decisions to withdraw or withhold curative or life-sustaining treatment can have a huge impact on the symptoms which the palliative-care team has to control. Palliative-care patients and their relatives may also turn to palliative-care physicians and nurses for advice regarding these treatments. We wanted to assess Indian palliative-care nurses and physicians’ attitudes towards withholding and withdrawal of curative or life-sustaining treatment. Method: From May to September 2008, we interviewed 14 physicians and 13 nurses working in different (...) palliative-care programmes in New Delhi, using a semi-structured questionnaire. For the interviews and analysis of the data we followed Grounded-Theory methodology. Results: Withholding a curative or life-sustaining treatment which may prolong a terminal cancer patient’s life with a few weeks but also has severe side-effects was generally considered acceptable by the interviewees. The majority of the interviewees agreed that life-sustaining treatments can be withdrawn in a patient who is in an irreversible coma. The palliative-care physicians and nurses were of the opinion that a patient has the right to refuse life-saving curative treatment. While reflecting upon the ethical acceptability of withholding or withdrawal of curative or life-sustaining treatment, the physicians and nurses were concerned about the whole patient and other people who may be affected by the decision. They were convinced they can play an important advisory role in the decision-making process. Conclusion: While deciding about the ethical issues, the physicians and nurses do not restrict their considerations to the physical aspects of the disease, but also reflect upon the complex wider consequences of the treatment decisions. (shrink)
Clinical ethics support services are developing in Europe. They will be most useful if they are designed to match the ethical concerns of clinicians. We conducted a cross-sectional mailed survey on random samples of general physicians in Norway, Switzerland, Italy, and the UK, to assess their access to different types of ethics support services, and to describe what makes them more likely to have used available ethics support. Respondents reported access to formal ethics support services such as clinical ethics (...) committees (23%), consultation in individual cases (17.6%), and individual ethicists (8.8%), but also to other kinds of less formal ethics support (23.6%). Access to formal ethics support services was associated with work in urban hospitals. Informal ethics resources were more evenly distributed. Although most respondents (81%) reported that they would find help useful in facing ethical difficulties, they reported having used the available services infrequently (14%). Physicians with greater confidence in their knowledge of ethics (P = 0.001), or who had had ethics courses in medical school (P = 0.006), were more likely to have used available services. Access to help in facing ethical difficulties among general physicians in the surveyed countries is provided by a mix of official ethics support services and other resources. Developing ethics support services may benefit from integration of informal services. Development of ethics education in medical school curricula could lead to improved physicians sensititity to ethical difficulties and greater use of ethics support services. Such support services may also need to be more proactive in making their help available. (shrink)
In this article I intend to describe an issue of the Dutch euthanasia practice that is not common knowledge. After some general introductory descriptions, by way of formulating a frame of reference, I shall describe the effects of this practice on patients, physicians and families, followed by a more philosophical reflection on the significance of these effects for the assessment of the authenticity of a request and the nature of unbearable suffering, two key concepts in the procedure towards euthanasia (...) or physician-assisted suicide. This article does not focus on the arguments for or against euthanasia and the ethical justification of physician-assisted dying. These arguments have been described extensively in Kimsma and Van Leeuwen (Asking to die. Inside the Dutch debate about euthanasia, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, 1998). (shrink)
The intent of ethics is to establish a set of standards that will provide a framework to modify, regulate, and possibly enhance moral behaviour. Eleven focus groups were conducted with physicians from six culturally distinct countries to explore their perception of formalized, written ethical guidelines (i.e., codes of ethics, credos, value and mission statements) that attempt to direct their ethical practice. Six themes emerged from the data: lack of awareness, no impact, marginal impact, other codes or value statements supersede, (...) personal codes or values dictate, and ethical guidelines are useful. Overall, codes were valued only when they were congruent with existing personal morality. The findings suggest the need to re-evaluate the purpose, content, and delivery of codes for them to improve their function in promoting ethical conduct. (shrink)
Background Financial relationships between physicians and industry are extensive and public reporting of industry payments to physicians is now occurring. Our objectives were to describe physician recipients of large total payments from these seven companies, and to examine discrepancies between these payments and conflict of interest (COI) disclosures in authors’ concurrent publications. Methods The investigative journalism organization, ProPublica, compiled the Dollars for Docs database of payments to individuals from publically available data from seven US pharmaceutical companies during the (...) period 2009 to 2010. We examined the cohort of 373 physicians in this database who each received USD $100,000 or more in the reporting period 2009 to 2010. Results These physicians received a total of $52,600,624 during this period (mean payment per physician $141,020). The predominant specialties were internal medicine and psychiatry. 147 of these physicians authored a total of 134 publications in the first quarter of 2011 and 77% (103) of these publications provided a COI disclosure. 69% of the 103 publications did not contain disclosures of the payment listed in the Dollars for Docs database. Conclusions With increased public reporting of industry payments to physicians, it is apparent that large sums are being paid for services such as consulting and peer education. In over two-thirds of publications where COI disclosures were provided, the disclosures by physician authors did not include industry payments that were documented in the Dollars for Docs database. (shrink)
This paper suggests that medical education be revised to assist in diffusing potential ethical dilemmas that arise during health care provision. A revised medical education would emphasize the role of the humanities in the training of physicians, especially in light of recent critiques of the canonical scientific model in general, and more specifically in the use of that model for medical training and practice.
The influence of direct-to-consumer advertising and physician promotions are examined in this study. We further examine some of the ethical issues which may arise when physicians accept promotional products from pharmaceutical companies. The data revealed that direct-to-consumer advertising is likely to increase the request rates of both the drug category and the drug brand choices, as well as the likelihood that those drugs will be prescribed by physicians. The data further revealed that the majority of responding physicians (...) were either neutral or did not feel that accepting some types of gifts from pharmaceutical companies affected their ethical behaviors. (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)
Medical professionals are a community of highly educated individuals with a commitment to a core set of ideals and principles. This community provides both technical and ethical socialization. The ideal physician is confident, empathic, forthright, respectful, and thorough. These ideals allow us to define broadly "the excellence" of being a physician. At the core of these ideals is the ability to be empathic. Empathy exhibits itself in attributes of an individual's moral character and also in actions that actualize and support (...) communal life. Empathy, however, can be diminished or even lost and must be nurtured on an ongoing basis. The development of ethical physicians is strongly linked to experiences in the training period. Moral traits are situation-sensitive psychological and behavioral dispositions. The clinical environment of medical training programs can be so intense as to lead to conditions that may actually deprofessionalize trainees. Creating a clinical environment that is ethically nurturing and sustaining is an indispensable component of practicing medicine. (shrink)
Patients increasingly see physicians not as humane caregivers but as unfeeling technicians. The study of philosophy in medical school has been proposed to foster critical thinking about one's assumptions, perspectives and biases, encourage greater tolerance toward the ideas of others, and cultivate empathy. I suggest that the study of ethics and philosophy by medical students has failed to produce the humane physicians we seek because of the way the subject matter is quarantined in American medical education. First, the (...) liberal arts are seen as the province of undergraduate education, and not medical school. Second, philosophy, when taught in medical school, is seen by students as just one subject to be mastered along with many other more important ones, and not as a way to foster critical thinking and empathy. What is needed is a new pedagogy that combines both cognitive and affective elements to implant and nourish the liberal arts in students. Removing the quarantine of philosophy from other facets of medical education is an important first step. (shrink)
Medical confidentiality is a core concept of professionalism and should be an integral part of pregraduate and postgraduate medical education. The aim of our study was to define the factors influencing attitudes towards patient confidentiality in everyday situations in order to define the need for offering further education to various subgroups of physicians. All internists and general practitioners who were registered members of the association of physicians in Geneva or who were working in the department of internal medicine (...) or in the medical polyclinic of the University Hospital of Geneva in 2004 received a standardised questionnaire. Physicians were asked to indicate for seven vignettes whether a violation of confidentiality had occurred and whether the violation was not important, important or serious (scores 1–3; no violation = 0). 508 completed questionnaires were returned (participation rate 55%). Physicians who had worked in the hospital for more than 20 years identified violations of confidentiality more often than physicians with less hospital experience. Binary logistic regression showed that ethics education, total years of professional experience, being an internist, having a private practice, the length of working in private practice and gender were factors associated with correct identification of violations and their severity. However, each factor played a specific role only for single cases or a small number of situations (Cronbach α <0.6). Postgraduate education programs on confidentiality should be offered to a wide range of physicians and should address specific hypothetical situations in which there is a risk of avoidable breaches of confidentiality. (shrink)
Research studies demonstrate wide variation in how physicians diagnose and treat patients with similar medical conditions and suggest that at least some of the variation reflects inefficiencies and unnecessary medical costs. Health care researchers are actively examining ways to reduce variations in practice through standardization of medicine to reduce the cost of treatment and ensure the quality of outcomes. The most widely accepted form of this standardization is Evidence Based Best Practices (EBBP). Furthermore, financial health care providers such as (...) hospitals and managed care organizations are investigating methods to tie resource usage to medical protocols in their efforts to monitor and control health care costs. Such proposals are contentious because they report on physicians’ medical practice behaviors (such as the number of tests ordered, use of specific therapies, etc.) and such reports could potentially be used to influence their clinical behaviors. The intent of this exploratory study was to examine physicians’ perceptions about linking a standard costing system to EBBP guidelines. The authors interviewed nine practicing physicians asking each physician to respond to the question, ‘As a physician working in a hospital environment, what are your reactions to and concerns with combining standard costing techniques with EBBP?’ The interviews were in-depth and free form in nature. The physicians’ responses were recorded and analyzed using Grounded Theory Methodology. Using this methodology the field data was categorized into two major themes. The most important theme centered on ethics and the second theme was concerned with the implementation and use of a standard cost system in regard to EBBP. If physicians’ worries about ethical dilemmas and implementation issues are not resolved, then it is likely that doctors would be unwilling to participate in any efforts to develop or use a standard cost-reporting system in medicine. While this study was exploratory in nature, it should provide future guidance to accountants, health care researchers and health care providers about physicians’ issues with the use of standard costing methods in medicine. (shrink)
Physicians often struggle with ethical issues surrounding intervention in their relatives’ health care. Many editorials, letters, and surveys have been written on this topic, but there is no systematic review of its prevalence. An Ovid Medline search was conducted for articles in English, written between January 1950 and December 2010, using the key words family member, relatives, treatment, prescribing, physician, and ethics. The search identified 41 articles (editorials, letters, and surveys). Surveys were reviewed to explore demographics of these treating (...)physicians and reasons for and against intervention. Physicians often intervene directly or indirectly in the health care of relatives. The most common reasons were convenience, cost savings, and the perception of having greater knowledge or concern than colleagues. Lost objectivity, fear of misdiagnosis, and inability to provide complete care were the main considerations against intervention. The characteristics of treating doctors were nonspecific. Most surveys recommend against this practice except for emergencies or minor ailments. This review included only a few surveys with small sample size and only assessed scientific literature written in English after 1950. Survey data may be biased by physicians’ self-reporting. In conclusion, most doctors occasionally intervene in their relatives’ care. The decision to do so is determined by multiple factors. Physicians should treat only short-term or minor illnesses within their scope of practice. Future research should evaluate doctors’ attitudes toward their relatives, medical student feelings about treating family, and intervention frequencies of medical and nonmedical professionals. (shrink)
Extending literature on health information to entertainment television, we analyze the prostate cancer narrative presented in the police drama, NYPD Blue. We explain how the physician-patient interaction depicted on the show followed (and sometimes did not follow) the medical dialogue model. Findings reveal that the producers of this show advocate a more dialogic model of medical interaction. Portrayals of incompetent, ineffective physicians are contrasted with the superior, effective efforts of other physicians. The audience learns that a non-dialogic approach (...) characterizes “bad doctors,” while the dialogic method typifies “good doctors.” Likewise, medical professionals can use such texts to enhance physician-patient interaction. (shrink)
Canada is a leader in experimenting with alternative, non fee for service provider remuneration methods; all jurisdictions have implemented salaries and payment models that blend fee for service with salary or capitation components. A series of qualitative interviews were held with 27 stakeholders in the Canadian health care system to assess the reasons and expectations behind the implementation of these payment methods for family physicians, as well as the extent to which objectives have been achieved. Results indicate that the (...) main reasons are a need to recruit and retain primary care physicians to rural and remote regions of the country, and the desire to increase collaboration, care continuity, prevention and health promotion. The general perception is that positive results have been observed, but problems are not alleviated. Blended payments have had some positive effects on preventive care delivery, collaboration, and care continuity. Salaries have provided a stable, predictable, and high source of income for physicians, thereby improving recruitment and retention. The implementation of salaries, however, led to concerns with declining physician productivity, and has brought to light a need for improved measurement and monitoring systems. (shrink)
Some medical services have long generated deep moral controversy within the medical profession as well as in broader society and have led to conscientious refusals by some physicians to provide those services to their patients. More recently, pharmacists in a number of states have refused on grounds of conscience to fill legal prescriptions for their customers. This paper assesses these controversies. First, I offer a brief account of the basis and limits of the claim to be free to act (...) on one’s conscience. Second, I sketch an account of the basis of the medical and pharmacy professions’ responsibilities and the process by which they are specified and change over time. Third, I then set out and defend what I call the “conventional compromise” as a reasonable accommodation to conflicts between these professions’ responsibilities and the moral integrity of their individual members. Finally, I take up and reject the complicity objection to the conventional compromise. Put together, this provides my answer to the question posed in the title of my paper: “Conscientious refusal by physicians and pharmacists: who is obligated to do what, and why?”. (shrink)
Opponents of euthanasia sometimes argue that it is incompatible with the purpose of medicine, since physicians have an unconditional duty never to intentionally cause death. But it is not clear how such a duty could ever actually be unconditional, if due consideration is given to the moral weight of countervailing duties equally fundamental to medicine. Whether physicians' moral duties are understood as correlative with patients' moral rights or construed noncorrelatively, a doctor's obligation to abstain from intentional killing cannot (...) be more than a defeasible duty. (shrink)
This essay rebuts Gary Seay's efforts to show that committing euthanasia need not conflict with a physician's professional duties. First, I try to show how his misunderstanding of the correlativity of rights and duties and his discussion of the foundation of moral rights undermine his case. Second, I show aspects of physicians' professional duties that clash with euthanasia, and that attempts to avoid this clash lead to absurdities. For professional duties are best understood as deriving from professional virtues and (...) the commitments and purposes with which the professional as such ought to act, and there is no plausible way in which her death can be seen as advancing the patient's medical welfare. Third, I argue against Prof. Seay's assumption that apparent conflicts among professional duties must be resolved through "balancing" and argue that, while the physician's duty to extend life is continuous with her duty to protect health, any duty to relieve pain is subordinate to these. Finally, I show that what is morally determinative here, as throughout the moral life, is the agent's intention and that Prof. Seay's implicitly preferred consequentialism threatens not only to distort moral thinking but would altogether undermine the medical (and any other) profession and its internal ethics. (shrink)
Book Information Psyche And Soma: Physicians and Metaphysicians on the Mind-Body Problem from Antiquity to Enlightenment. Psyche And Soma: Physicians and Metaphysicians on the Mind-Body Problem from Antiquity to Enlightenment John P. Wright Paul Potter Oxford Clarendon Press 2000 xii + 298, Hardback £45.00 Edited by John P. Wright; Paul Potter . Clarendon Press. Oxford. Pp. xii + 298,. Hardback:£45.00.
Physicians and families need to interact more meaningfully to clarify the values and preferences at stake in advance care planning. The current use of advance directives fails to respect patient autonomy. This paper proposes using the family covenant as a preventive ethics process designed to improve end-of-life planning by incorporating other family members—as agreed to by the patient and those family members—into the medical care dialogue. The family covenant formulates advance directives in conversation with family members and with the (...) assistance of a physician, thereby making advance directives more acceptable to the family, and more intelligible to other physicians. It adds the moral force of a promise to the obligation of respecting a patient’s preferences about end-of-life care. These negotiations between patient, family, and physician, from early planning phases through implementation, should greatly reduce the incidence of family disagreements on what the patient would have wanted. The family covenant ensures advance directive discussions within the family, promotes and respects the autonomy of other family members, and might even spur others in the family to complete advance directives through additional covenants. The family covenant holds the potential to transform moral quagmires into meaningful moral conversation. J Am Geriatr Soc 51:1155–1158, 2003. (shrink)
An important part of the debate over physician-assisted suicide concerns moral duties that are specific to physicians. It is sometimes argued that physicians, by virtue of special commitments rooted in the nature of their profession, may never intentionally kill a patient, and that therefore, whether or not assisted suicide may be justifiable, it can never be right for a physician to take part in such an act. I examine four types of argument that have been offered in support (...) of this conclusion, and find that none succeeds. Each attempts to show why the duty to conserve life must be unconditional for physicians, yet a consideration of the ways in which contemporary medicine has evolved shows that such a duty is now no more fundamental to the profession than a duty to relieve suffering, which may in some cases override it. (shrink)
Using medical advances to enhance human athletic, aesthetic, and cognitive performance, rather than to treat disease, has been controversial. Little is known about physicians? experiences, views, and attitudes in this regard. We surveyed a national sample of physicians to determine how often they prescribe enhancements, their views on using medicine for enhancement, and whether they would be willing to prescribe a series of potential interventions that might be considered enhancements. We find that many physicians occasionally prescribe enhancements, (...) but doctors hold nuanced and ambiguous views of these issues. Most express concerns about the potential effects of enhancements on social equity, yet many also believe specific enhancements that are safe and effective should be available but not covered by insurance. These apparently contradictory views might reflect inherent tensions between the values of equity and liberty, which could make crafting coherent social policies on medical enhancements challenging. [Supplementary materials are available for this article. Go to the publisher's online edition of American Journal of Bioethics for the following free supplemental resource(s): An additional table (Table 5) referred to on p. 5]. (shrink)
This article constitutes excerpts of a videotaped discussion hosted by the New England Journal of Medicine on January 14, 2008, concerning a range of topics on lethal injection prompted by the United States Supreme Court's January 7 oral arguments in Baze v. Rees. Dr. Atul Gawande moderated the roundtable that included two anesthesiologists - Dr. Robert Truog and Dr. David Waisel - as well as law professor Deborah Denno. The discussion focused on the drugs used in lethal injection executions, whether (...)physicians should participate, potential alternatives, and some of the legal parameters of Baze. (shrink)
Background While it is generally acknowledged that self-prescribing among physicians poses some risk, research finds such behaviour to be common and in certain cases accepted by the medical community. Largely absent from the literature is knowledge about other activities doctors perform for their own medical care or for the informal treatment of family and friends. This study examined the variety, frequency and association of behaviours doctors report providing informally. Informal care included prescriptions, as well as any other type of (...) personal medical treatment (eg, monitoring chronic or serious conditions). Method A survey was sent to 2500 randomly-selected physicians in Colorado, 600 individuals returned questionnaires with usable data. The authors hypothesised: (1) physicians would prescribe the same types of treatment at home as they prescribed professionally; and (2) physicians who informally prescribed addictive medications would be more likely to engage in other types of informal medical care. Results Physicians who wrote prescriptions for antibiotics, psychotropics and opioids at work were more likely to prescribe these medications at home. Those prescribing addictive drugs outside of the office treated more serious illnesses in emergency situations, more chronic conditions and more major medical/surgical conditions informally than did those not routinely prescribing addictive medications. Physicians reported a variety of informal care behaviour and high frequency of informal care to family and friends. Discussion The frequency and variety of informal care reported in this study strongly argues for profession-wide discussion about ethical and guideline considerations for such behaviour. These areas are discussed in the paper. (shrink)
Among the many explanations for antibiotic overprescription, some doctors cite the risk of malpractice liability if they deny a patient's request for an antibiotic and the patient's condition worsens. In this paper, I examine the merits of this concern—i.e., whether physicians could, in fact, face malpractice liability for refusing to prescribe an antibiotic when, from a public health perspective, the use of the antibiotic would be considered inappropriate. I conclude that the potential for liability cannot be dismissed entirely, but (...) the risk is remote—even in cases where there is a chance that the antibiotic might have benefited the patient. (shrink)
Physician-pharmaceutical industry interactions continue to generate heated debate in academic and public domains, both in the United States and abroad. Despite this, recent research suggests that physicians and physicians-in-training remain ignorant of the core issues and are ill-prepared to understand pharmaceutical industry promotion. There is a vast medical literature on this topic, but no single, concise resource. This book aims to fill that gap by providing a resource that explains the essential elements of this subject. The text makes (...) the reader more aware of the key ethical issues and allows the reader to be a more savvy interpreter of industry promotion, have a heightened awareness of the public and medical legal consequences of some physician-pharmaceutical industry interactions, and be better equipped to handle real-life encounters with industry. (shrink)
While twentieth-century medical ethics has focused on the duty of physicians to benefit their patients, the next century will see that duty challenged in three ways. First, we will increasingly recognize that it is unrealistic to expect physicians to be able to determine what will benefit their patients. Either they limit their attention to medical well-being when total well-being is the proper end of the patient or they strive for total well-being, which takes them beyond their expertise. Even (...) within the medical sphere, they have no basis for choosing among the proper medical goals for medicine. Also, there are many plausible strategies for relating predicted benefits to harms, and physicians cannot be expert in picking among these strategies. Second, increasingly plausible ethical systems recognize that in some cases, patient benefit must be sacrificed to protect patient rights including the right to the truth, to have promises kept, to have autonomy respected, and to not be killed. Third, ethics of the next century will increasingly recognize that some patient benefits must be sacrificed to fulfill duties to others - either the duty to serve the interests of others or other duties such as keeping promises, telling the truth, and, particularly, promoting justice. Physicians in the twenty-first century will be seen as having a new, more limited duty to assist the patient in pursuing the patient's understanding of the patient's interest within the constraints of deontological ethical principles and externally imposed duties to promote justice. The result will be a duty to be loyal to the consumer of health care with the recognition that often this will mean that the physician is not permitted to pursue the physician's understanding of the patient's well-being. (shrink)
Malpractice insurance rates have created a crisis in American medicine. Rates are rising and reimbursements are not keeping pace. In response, physicians in the states hardest hit by this crisis are feeling compelled to take political action, and the current action of choice seems to be physician strikes. While the malpractice insurance crisis is acknowledged to be severe, does it justify the extreme action of a physician walkout? Should physicians engage in this type of collective action, and what (...) are the costs to patients and the profession when such action is taken? I will offer three related arguments against physician strikes that constitute a prima facie prohibition against such action: first, strikes are intended to cause harm to patients; second, strikes are an affront to the physician-patient relationship; and, third, strikes risk decreasing the public's respect for the medical profession. As with any prima facie obligation, there are justifying conditions that may override the moral prohibition, but I will argue that the current malpractice crisis does not rise to the level of such a justifying condition. While the malpractice crisis demands and justifies a political response on the part of the nation's physicians, strikes and slow-downs are not an ethically justified means to the legitimate end of controlling insurance costs. (shrink)
Physicians make some medical decisions without disclosure to their patients. Nondisclosure is possible because these are silent decisions to refrain from screening, diagnostic or therapeutic interventions. Nondisclosure is ethically permissible when the usual presumption that the patient should be involved in decisions is defeated by considerations of clinical utility or patient emotional and physical well-being. Some silent decisions - not all - are ethically justified by this standard. Justified silent decisions are typically dependent on the physician's professional judgment, experience (...) and knowledge, and are not likely to be changed by patient preferences. We condemn the inappropriate exclusion of the patient from the decision-making process. However, if a test or treatment is unlikely to yield a net benefit, disclosure and discussion are at times unnecessary. Appropriate silent decisions are ethically justified by such considerations as patient benefit or economy of time. (shrink)
This study sought to gauge ethical attitudes about professional boundary issues of physicians and nurses in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Respondents scored 10 relevant boundary vignettes as to their ethical acceptability. The group as a whole proved “aware/ ethically conservative,” but with the physicians' score falling on the “less ethically conservative” part of the spectrum compared to nurses. The degree of ethicality was more related to profession than to gender, with nurses being more “ethical” than physicians.
The average net income of physicians in the USA is more than four times the average net income of people working in all domestic industries in the USA. When critics suggest that physicians make too much money, defenders typically appeal to the following four prominent principles of economic justice: Aristotle's Income Principle, the Free Market Principle, the Utilitarian Income Principle, and Rawls' Difference Principle. I shall show that no matter which of these four principles is assumed, the present (...) high incomes of physicians cannot be defended. (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)
Nurses and physicians may experience ethical conflict when there is a difference between their own values, their professional values or the values of their organization. The distribution of limited health care resources can be a major source of ethical conflict. Relatively few studies have examined nurses' and physicians' ethical conflict with organizations. This study examined the research question ‘What are the organizational ethical conflicts that hospital nurses and physicians experience in their practice?’ We interviewed 34 registered nurses, (...) 10 nurse managers, and 31 physicians as part of a larger study, and asked them to describe their ethical conflicts with organizations. Through content analysis, we identified themes of nurses' and physicians' ethical conflict with organizations and compared the themes for nurses with those for physicians. (shrink)
When a child is born with ambiguousgenitalia it is declared a psychosocialemergency, and the policy first proposed byJohn Money (Johns Hopkins University) andadapted by the American Academy of Pediatrics(and more broadly accepted in Canada, the U.K.,and Europe) requires determination ofunderlying condition(s), selection of gender,surgical intervention, and a commitment by allparties to accept the ``real sex'' of thepatient, all no later than 18–24 months,preferably earlier. Ethicists have recentlyquestioned this protocol on several grounds:lack of medical necessity, violation ofinformed consent, uncertainty of (...) standards ofsuccess, among others. This suggests that thefaults in the protocol can be addressed andimproved. Through a rhetorical approachinformed by Perelman/Olbrechts-Tyteca, thedisciplinary pathologization and reconstructionof the body are explored as incidents ofconstraining rhetoric that enact theirpersuasion upon the body of intersexedchildren. This essay shows that thepresumptions, judgments, values, andpresuppositions brought by the physician to theidentification, diagnosis, and curativeprocedures create a network of constraints thatexclude alternative possibilities. The resultis a situation wherein parents, physicians, andintersexed patients have ``no choice'' but toaccept the medical treatment guidelines. (shrink)
Within the past few years, managed care health insurance programs have become commonplace. With managed care programs, however, physicians are facing increasing ethical pressures. This paper examines the relationship between physicians'' behavior intentions with respect to four managed care ethical scenarios and their responses to Forsyth''s (1980) Ethics Position Questionnaire (EPQ). This is one of the first papers to compare this scale to behavioral intentions in the workplace. We provide a literature review of the ethical dilemmas that doctors (...) face under a managed care system and conduct a national random sample of general practitioners and surgeons regarding the four managed care ethical dilemmas. The results show that the doctors surveyed are significantly more idealistic than relativistic. In relating the EPQ to the ethical scenarios, however, there was no support for the proposition that ethical ideology was related to the ethical behavioral intentions. This suggests more research is needed to establish the links between ethical positions, attitudes, and behavioral intentions. Finally, there were little differences in EPQ scores by practice or demographic variables, the only significant result being that general surgeons are significantly more idealistic than family practitioners. (shrink)
The removal of life-sustaining treatment often brings physicians into conflict with patients. Because of their moral beliefs physicians often respond slowly to the request of patients or their families. People in bioethics have been quick to recommend that in cases of conflict the physician should simply sign off the case and "step aside". This is not easily done psychologically or morally. Such a resolution also masks a number of more subtle, quite trouble some problems that conflict with the (...) commitment to toleration and moral diversity that it is intended to support. These conflicts are detailed and evaluated. Keywords: collisions, conscientious objection, limits to toleration, moral diversity, patient, physician, toleration CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)