'Playing God Because you Have to': Health Professionals' Narratives of Rationing Care in Humanitarian and Development Work

Public Health Ethics 3 (2):147-156 (2010)
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This article explores the accounts of Canadian-trained health professionals working in humanitarian and development organizations who considered not treating a patient or group of patients because of resource limitations. In the narratives, not treating the patient(s) was sometimes understood as the right thing to do, and sometimes as wrong. In analyzing participants’ narratives we draw attention to how medications and equipment are represented. In one type of narrative, medications and equipment are represented primarily as scarce resources; in another, they are represented as patient care. In the contexts respondents were working, medications and equipment were often both patient care interventions and scarce resources. The analytic point is that health professionals tend to emphasize one conceptualization over the other in coming to assert that not treating is right, or wrong. Rendering tacit ethical frameworks more explicit makes them available for reflection and debate



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Lindsey Schwartz
University of Missouri, Kansas City

References found in this work

A Critique of Principlism.K. D. Clouser & B. Gert - 1990 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 15 (2):219-236.
Rethinking medical ethics: A view from below.Paul Farmer - 2004 - Developing World Bioethics 4 (1):17–41.
Rethinking Medical Ethics: A View From Below.Paul Farmer - 2004 - Developing World Bioethics 4 (1):17-41.

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