Readers are invited to contact Greg S. Loeben in writing at Midwestern University, Glendale Campus, Bioethics Program, 19555 N. 59th Ave., Glendale, AZ 85308 regarding books they would like to see reviewed or books they are interested in reviewing.
The market for cosmetic surgery tourism is growing with an increase in people travelling abroad for cosmetic surgery. While the reasons for seeking cosmetic surgery abroad may vary the most common reason is financial, but does cheaper surgery abroad carry greater risks? We explore the risks of poorly regulated cosmetic surgery to society generally before discussing how harm might be magnified in the context of cosmetic tourism, where the demand for cheaper surgery drives the (...) market and makes surgery accessible for increasing numbers of people. This contributes to the normalisation of surgical enhancement, creating unhealthy cultural pressure to undergo invasive and risky procedures in the name of beauty. In addressing the harms of poorly regulated surgery, a number of organisations purport to provide a register of safe and ethical plastic surgeons, yet this arguably achieves little and in the absence of improved regulation the risks are likely to grow as the global market expands to meet demand. While the evidence suggests that global regulation is needed, the paper concludes that since a global regulatory response is unlikely, more robust domestic regulation may be the best approach. While domestic regulation may increase the drive towards foreign providers it may also have a symbolic effect which will reduce this drive by making people more aware of the dangers of surgery, both to society and individual physical wellbeing. (shrink)
Clinical cases of frontal lobe lesions have been significantly associated with acquired aggressive behaviour. Restoring neuronal and cognitive faculties of aggressive individuals through invasive brain intervention raises ethical questions in general. However, more questions have to be addressed in cases where individuals refuse surgical treatment. The ethical desirability and permissibility of using intrusive surgical brain interventions for involuntary or voluntary treatment of acquired aggressiveness is highly questionable. This article engages with the description of acquired aggressiveness in general, and (...) presents a rare clinical case to illustrate the difficulties of treating this population. To expand the debate further, this article explores the ethics related to invasive brain surgery in three parts: a) it examines coercive involuntary invasive brain surgery for the benefit of protecting others on individuals suffering from acquired aggressiveness who lack decision-making capacities to consent; b) it addresses voluntary psychosurgery on individuals suffering from acquired aggressiveness who are competent to consent; and, c) it questions whether acquired aggressive individuals, who are legally competent, have a duty to consent to invasive brain surgery, in order to maintain their autonomy by reducing or even eliminate their aggressive drives. Ensuring the safety and efficacy of surgical brain interventions could increase the ethical permissibility of voluntary treatment, but it would not necessarily entail ethical justification for proceeding with invasive brain surgery for treatment of intractable acquired aggressive behaviour. (shrink)
In recent years, bariatric surgery has become an increasingly popular treatment of obesity. The amount of resources spent on this kind of surgery has led to a heated debate among health care professionals and the general public, as each procedure costs at minimum $14,500 and thousands of patients undergo surgery every year. So far, no substantial argument for or against giving this treatment a high priority has, however, been presented. In this article, I argue that regardless (...) which moral perspective we consider—greatest need, utility or personal responsibility—the conclusion is that we should give bariatric surgery a high priority when allocating scarce resources in health care. (shrink)
Recent debates over the use of sham surgery as a control for studies of fetal tissue transplantation for Parkinson’s disease have focused primarily on rival interpretations of the US federal regulations governing human-subjects research. Using the core ethical and methodological considerations that underwrite the equipoise requirement, we nd strong prima facie reasons against using sham surgery as a control in studies of cellular-based therapies for Parkinson’s disease and more broadly in clinical research. Additionally, we believe that these reasons (...) can be generalized to apply to the use of other placebo controls that carry signi cant risks of positive harms in and of themselves. As a result, our arguments are centrally relevant to the emerging drive to subject therapies with a surgical component to the same rigorous standards of evaluation as those governing the approval of new pharmaceuticals. (shrink)
Should face transplants be undertaken? This article examines the ethical problems involved from the perspective of the recipient, looking particularly at the question of identity, the donor and the donor’s family, and the disfigured community and society more generally. Concern is expressed that full face transplants are going ahead.
Should face transplants be undertaken? This article examines the ethical problems involved from the perspective of the recipient, looking particularly at the question of identity, the donor and the donor’s family, and the disfigured community and society more generally. Concern is expressed that full face transplants are going ahead.
Demands for access to experimental therapies are frequently framed in the language of rights. This article examines the justifiability of such demands in the specific context of surgical innovations, these being promising but non-validated and potentially risky departures from standard surgical practices. I argue that there is a right to access innovative surgery, drawing analogies with other generally accepted rights in medicine, such as the right not to be forcibly treated, to buy contraceptives, and to choose to have an (...) abortion, including a post-viability abortion where the mother's life or health is threatened by the pregnancy. I argue that we accept these rights because we believe that people are entitled to try to preserve their lives and health and to make choices of an important and intensely personal kind, and I suggest that a person's choice of medical treatment should be seen in the same light. However, since few rights are absolute, I also consider the circumstances in which it may be justifiable to limit the right to access innovative surgery. In discussing this question, I apply the human rights standard of proportionality, comparing the importance of the reasons for limiting the right with the severity of the invasion on liberty. (shrink)
In many countries, there are health care initiatives to make smokers give up smoking in the peri-operative setting. There is empirical evidence that this may improve some, but not all, operative outcomes. However, it may be feared that some support for such policies stems from ethically questionable opinions, such as paternalism or anti-smoker sentiments. This study aimed at investigating the support for a policy of smoking cessation prior to surgery among Swedish physicians and members of the general public, (...) as well as the reasons provided for this. A random sample of general practitioners and orthopaedic surgeons as well as members of the general public received a mail questionnaire. It contained a vignette case with a smoking 57-year old male farmer with hip osteoarthritis. The patient had been recommended hip replacement therapy, but told that in order to qualify for surgery he needed to give up smoking four weeks prior to and after surgery. The respondents were asked whether making such qualifying demands is acceptable, and asked to rate their agreement with pre-set arguments for and against this policy. Response rates were 58.2% among physicians and 53.8% among the general public. Of these, 83.9% and 86.6%, respectively, agreed that surgery should be made conditional upon smoking cessation. Reference to the peri-operative risks associated with smoking was the most common argument given. However, there was also strong support for the argument that such a policy is mandated in order to achieve long term health gains. There is strong support for a policy of smoking cessation prior to surgery in Sweden. This support is based on considerations of peri-operative risks as well as the general long term risks of smoking. This study indicates that paternalistic attitudes may inform some of the support for peri-operative smoking cessation policies and that at least some respondents seem to favour a “recommendation strategy” vis-à-vis smoking cessation prior to surgery rather than a “requirement strategy”. The normative reasons speak in favour of the “recommendation strategy”. (shrink)
Society in the 21st century is in many ways different from society in the 1950s, the 1960s or the 1970s. Two of the most important changes relate to the level of education in the population and the balance between work and private life. These days a large percentage of people are highly educated. Partly as a result of economic progress in the 1950s and the 1960s and partly due to the fact that many women entered the labour force, people started (...) searching for ways to combine their career with family obligations and a private life (including hobbies, outings and holidays). Medical professional ethics, more specifically: professional attitudes towards patients and colleagues, is influenced by developments such as these, but how much and in what way? It was assumed that surgery ethics would be more robust, resistant to change and that general practitioner (GP) ethics would change more readily in response to a changing society, because surgeons perform technical work in operating theatres in hospitals whereas GPs have their offices in the midst of society. The journals of Dutch surgeons and GPs from the 1950s onwards were studied so as to detect traces of change in medical professional ethics in The Netherlands. GP ethics turned out to be malleable compared with surgery ethics. In fact, GP medicine proved to be an agent of change rather than merely responding to it, both with regard to the changing role of patients and with regard to the changing work life balance. (shrink)
Objectives: The aim of this study was to examine priority setting for coronary artery bypass surgery, and to provide an overview of decisions and rationales used in clinical practice.Method: Questionnaires were sent to all permanently employed cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, and anaesthesiologists at nine Swedish hospitals performing adult cardiothoracic surgery.Results: A total of 208 physicians responded . There was considerable agreement concerning the criteria that should be used to set priorities for coronary artery bypass interventions . However, there was (...) a lack of accord regarding the use of national guidelines for priority setting and risk indexes.Conclusions: Basic training and the strong support of ethical principles in priority setting are lacking. The respondents indicated a need for clearer guidelines and an open dialogue or discussion. The lack of generally acknowledged plans and guidelines for priority setting may result in unequal, conditional, and unfair treatment. (shrink)
This article examines patients’ calls to three different GP services in the United Kingdom. Using conversation analysis, combined with coding of 447 calls, we studied the role of thank you in closing sequences, focusing on their timing and order in relation to service outcome. We show first how patients withhold thank you in orientation to an absent summary or specification of service: patients are more likely to initiate thank you if the receptionist volunteers such a summary. Second, we show there (...) is variation in how appropriately participants project the termination of calls using thank you. Finally, while thank you serves a primary role in managing the termination of calls, the timing, order and design of thank you can also display patient satisfaction. We discuss our findings in terms of service encounters more generally, including implications for larger scale analysis. (shrink)
How should a practice, subservient to a public good, be regulated in order to guarantee fair access without encouraging improper claims? In the first place, a clear understanding of the goal of the practice is indispensable for knowing what criteria the regulation must contain. As to the purely formal aspect, the regulation of any practice must include both general rules and particular instances. Finally, to resolve conflicts, committees in which different kinds of expertise are represented should be installed. These (...) three theses are illustrated by the Dutch regulation for cosmetic surgery. (shrink)
Objective: Deep brain stimulation targeted to the ventral intermediate nucleus of the thalamus is effective for motor symptoms in essential tremor, but there is limited data on cognitive outcomes. We examined cognitive outcomes in a large cohort of ET DBS patients.Methods: In a retrospective analysis, we used repeated-measures ANOVA testing to examine whether the age of tremor onset, age at DBS surgery, hemisphere side implanted with lead, unilateral vs. bilateral implantations, and presence of surgical complications influenced the cognitive outcomes. (...) Neuropsychological outcomes of interest were verbal memory, executive functioning, working memory, language functioning, visuospatial functioning, and general cognitive function.Results: We identified 50 ET DBS patients; 29 males; the mean age of tremor onset was 35.84 years with a median age of 38 years. The mean age at DBS was 68.18 years. There were 37 unilateral 30 left, seven right, and 13 bilateral brain implantations. In the subgroup analysis, there was a significant interaction between assessment and age of tremor onset ; F = 4.47; p = 0.043 for working memory. The post hoc testing found improvements for younger onset ET. Similarly, there was a significant interaction between assessment and complications vs. no complications subgroups; F = 4.34; p = 0.043 for verbal memory with worsening scores seen for ET patients with complications. The remaining tests were not significant.Conclusion: In this large cohort of ET patients with, DBS was not accompanied by a significant decline in many cognitive domains. These outcomes were possibly related to the selection of patients with normal cognitive functioning before surgery, unilateral DBS implantations for the majority, and selection of patients with optimal response to DBS. (shrink)
Fundamento. La historia de la Neurocirugía en el territorio está estrechamente relacionada con la de otras especialidades como la Cirugía General y la Ortopedia. Tiene sus primeras referencias establecidas en la etapa colonial en el Hospital General, documentadas en el Boletín del Colegio Médico de Camagüey. Objetivo es resaltar la importancia que tuvieron el Hospital General y el Colegio Médico de Camagüey con su boletín en la historia de la Neurocirugía y la Ortopedia. Método. Es una investigación (...) histórica que se basa en la revisión documental y utiliza el submétodo cronológico para establecer el orden de los hechos que se describen. Desarrollo. El Hospital General a partir de su reconstrucción a finales del siglo XIX, se convirtió en el principal centro médico quirúrgico de la provincia en la época colonial. Muchos de los resultados de la actividad asistencial y científica de sus médicos apareció publicada en el Boletín del Colegio Médico de Camagüey, prestigiosa revista científica que se encargó de divulgar los resultados de la medicina camagüeyana y donde aparecen artículos que evidencian cómo cirujanos generales realizaron las primeras intervenciones neuroquirúrgicas y ortopédicas. Conclusiones. Se consideran al Hospital General y al Colegio Médico de Camagüey y su boletín, como elementos indispensables al escribir la historiografía de la Neurocirugía y la Ortopedia en el territorio. Ground: the history of Neurosurgery in this place is closely linked to other specialties like GeneralSurgery and Orthopedics. The first documented references went back to the colonial period in the General Hospital, documented in the bulletin of the medical college in Camagüey. The objective is to highlight the importance of the General Hospital and the medical college and its bulletin in the history of Neurosurgery and Orthopedics in Camagüey. Methods: This a historical investigation that was carried out taking documented revision and using chronologic sub method to establish the order of the facts that have been described. Development: Since the reconstruction of the General hospital at the end of the XIX century, it became the main medical_ surgical center in the province during the colonial period. Many of the scientific results and medical activities were published in the bulletin of the medical college, which became a well-known scientific magazine that was in charge of publishing the medical success in Camagüey. There are articles to prove that general surgeons performed the first neurosurgical and orthopedic interventions. Conclusions: The General hospital, the medical college and its bulletin are considered crucial elements to describe the history of Neurosurgery and Orthopedics in the territory. (shrink)
Breast cancer is a disease that is difficult to face and that often hinders body acceptance. Body changes due to surgery can be very emotionally challenging for those who experience them. The aim of this study is to explore the differences on body image and psychological adjustment on women with breast cancer with high and low alexithymia according to the type of surgery. In this cross-sectional study, 119 women diagnosed with breast cancer were evaluated with different self-report questionnaires. (...) Afterward, patients were divided into two groups to analyze dependent variables according to the type of surgery. The results of the General Linear Model suggest that when patients show high alexithymia combined with having undergone a radical mastectomy, they show higher levels of Hopelessness. Furthermore, in patients with high alexithymia, higher scores of maladaptive coping styles and greater distortion of body image were found. Alexithymia seems to play an important role in the way in which women cope with their disease, especially in those with radical mastectomy. (shrink)
Aim: To assess, against a checklist of specific areas of required information and using standard published criteria, to what extent leaflets given before cataract surgery provided patients with enough information to give adequately informed consent.Method: Twelve ophthalmology departments in the West Midlands region were asked to submit the cataract information leaflets given to their patients at the preoperative assessment for analysis. Using criteria published by the General Medical Council, British Medical Association, and Medical Defence Union the leaflets were (...) assessed for their contribution to informed consent for patients considering cataract surgery. Leaflets were scored according to the information they provided on: diagnosis, prognosis, treatment options, costs to the patient, details about the procedure, its purpose, likely benefits, how to prepare for it, what to expect during and after the operation, and the common as well as serious complications that may occur. The readability of the information was also assessed.Results: All the units’ leaflets provided information on diagnosis, the lifestyle changes required postoperatively, and cost involved to the patient. Only five units had leaflets that mentioned the risks involved in cataract surgery. The other areas of information were covered by 50–75% of the leaflets. Fifty per cent of the leaflets included a diagram. The average SMOG readability score was high.Conclusion: Although present cataract information leaflets make some contribution to the process of informed consent, most do not address important areas outlined by the General Medical Council. Many of the areas of information that are required for informed consent could easily be covered, and should be borne in mind when designing patient information leaflets. Resources are available on the internet including toolkits, guides, and means of assessment for the production of patient information leaflets. (shrink)
This medical humanities paper describes our qualitative research into pathways to care and informed consent for 10 children who had cardiac surgery in the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa. Our multidisciplinary team consists of cardiologists, anthropologists, a social scientist and a general practitioner in two sites, South Africa and Australia. This paper builds on our first publication in a specialist cardiology journal on a ‘qualitative snapshot’ of these children’s life stories from 2011 to (...) 2016 but turns to the medical humanities to explore a concept of ‘uncertainty’. Data analysis revealed that for the children’s parents and doctors, ‘uncertainty’ underscored procedures. Indeed, the literature review showed that ‘uncertainty’ is intrinsic to heart surgery and was integral to Barnard’s first heart transplant in Cape Town in 1967. We demonstrate that in meeting the challenges inherent in the ‘uncertainty dimension’, doctors established greater ‘medical certainty’about each operation. This happened as they encountered the difficult clinical and biopsychosocial factors that were fundamental to the diagnosis of children’s cardiac defects. It was doctors’ translation of these decision-making processes that informed parental decisions and described why, despite feelings of uncertainty, parents signed consent. To visually describe heart surgery in this locality we asked the South African photographer, Guy Neveling to record some children undergoing echocardiograms and surgery. These photographs qualitatively demonstrate what medical certainty entails, and parents’ trust in doctors and surgeons, whom they knew had ‘reasonable certainty’ that their child’s ‘heart is worth saving’. (shrink)
This article examines the fortunes of one particular surgical innovation in the treatment of gallstones in the late 20th century; the percutaneous cholecystolithotomy. This was an experimental procedure which was trialled and developed in the early days of minimally invasive surgery and one which fairly rapidly fell out of favour. Using diverse research methods from textual analysis to oral history to re-enactment, the authors explore the rise and fall of the PCCL demonstrating that such apparent failures are as crucial (...) a part of innovation histories as the triumphs and have much light to shed on the development of surgery more generally. (shrink)
Background Healthcare systems are increasingly struggling with resource constraints, given demographic changes, technological development, and citizen expectations. The aim of this article is to normatively analyze different suggestions regarding how publicly financed plastic surgery should be delineated in order to identify a well-considered, normative rationale. The scope of the article is to discuss general principles and not define specific conditions or domains of plastic surgery that should be treated within the publicly financed system. Methods This analysis uses (...) a reflective equilibrium approach, according to which considered normative judgements in one area should be logically and argumentatively coherent with considered normative judgements and background theories at large within a system. Results and conclusions In exploring functional versus non-function conditions, we argue that it is difficult to find a principled reason for an absolute priority of functional conditions over non-functional conditions. Nevertheless, functional conditions are relatively easier to establish objectively, and surgical intervention has a clear causal effect on treating a functional condition. Considering non-functional conditions that require plastic surgery [i.e., those related to appearance or symptomatic conditions ], we argue that the patient needs to experience some degree of suffering, which must be ‘validated’ in some form by the healthcare system. This validation is required for both functional and non-functional conditions. Functional conditions are validated by distinguishing between statistically normal and abnormal functioning. Similarly, for non-functional conditions, statistical normality represents a potential method for distinguishing between what should and should not be publicly funded. However, we acknowledge that such a concept requires further development. (shrink)
In the present article we consider general anesthesia as a means of exploring questions regarding unconscious influence. The primary questions addressed in the research are whether surgical patients who are under adequate general anesthesia unconsciously perceive auditory information and whether they can benefit from such information. In addition, we consider the relevance of individual hypnotic ability for perceptual processing in this context. Ninety-six adult patients, undergoing elective abdominal hysterectomy, were randomly allocated to one of four tape-recorded conditions: therapeutic (...) suggestions, melodies, suggestions-plus-melodies, or silence. Double-blind conditions were satisfied in every respect. Patients received a standardized, but typical, "balanced" anesthetic, and level of anesthesia was adequately monitored. Following surgery, all patients received their analgesic medication from a patient-controlled device. Patients who were played therapeutic suggestions used a significantly smaller dose of morphine than patients who were not played suggestions. Although hypnotic ability was not significantly associated with therapeutic outcome, high but not low hypnotizable patients accurately guessed whether they were played suggestions. No compelling evidence for memory of melodies was obtained. (shrink)
Objective To ascertain and improve the understanding and use of chaperones among the patients of an English general practice (GP). Background Doctors have long been advised to have a third party present during intimate physical examinations. Little is known about the understanding of the term in the general population in England and the consequences of this for the promotion and use of chaperones in GP. We audited the understanding and use of chaperones in an English GP. The aim (...) of the study was to increase the awareness of the availability of chaperones in our population. Methods A questionnaire was given randomly to 100 patients attending the GP surgery. Participants were asked about their awareness of and frequency of requesting a chaperone while undergoing intimate examinations. Based on the initial results, a poster was designed for the waiting room to increase awareness. Data were collected with the same questionnaire to see if the new poster altered surgery attendees understanding and likely subsequent use of chaperones. Results In the initial audit, 29% of patients were unaware of the term chaperone, and only one person (1%) had ever requested a chaperone. After the introduction of a specially designed poster, the results showed an improvement in awareness from 71% to 89%, and the likely frequency of using a chaperone increased from 1% to 4%. Conclusion There is a need to improve the understanding of the general population about chaperones if we are to see greater use of chaperones in GP. (shrink)
Background There is little dispute that the ideal moral standard for surgical informed consent calls for surgeons to carry out a disclosure dialogue with patients before they sign the informed consent form. This narrative study is the first to link patient experiences regarding the disclosure dialogue with patient-surgeon trust, central to effective recuperation and higher adherence. Methods Informants were 12 Israelis, aged 29–81, who underwent life-saving surgeries. A snowball sampling was used to locate participants in their initial recovery process upon (...) discharge. Results Our empirical evidence indicates an infringement of patients’ right to receive an adequate disclosure dialogue that respects their autonomy. More than half of the participants signed the informed consent form with no disclosure dialogue, and thus felt anxious, deceived and lost their trust in surgeons. Surgeons nullified the meaning of informed consent rather than promoted participants’ moral agency and dignity. Discussion Similarity among jarring experiences of participants led us to contend that the conduct of nullifying surgical informed consent does not stem solely from constraints of time and resources, but may reflect an underlying paradox preserving this conduct and leading to objectification of patients and persisting in paternalism. We propose a multi-phase data-driven model for informed consent that attends to patients needs and facilitates patient trust in surgeons. Conclusions Patient experiences attest to the infringement of a patient’s right to respect for autonomy. In order to meet the prima facie right of respect for autonomy, moral agency and dignity, physicians ought to respect patient’s needs. It is now time to renew efforts to avoid negligent disclosure and implement a patient-centered model of informed consent. (shrink)
Automatic control of physiological variables is one of the most active areas in biomedical engineering. This paper is centered in the prediction of the analgesic variables evolution in patients undergoing surgery. The proposal is based on the use of hybrid intelligent modelling methods. The study considers the Analgesia Nociception Index to assess the pain in the patient and remifentanil as intravenous analgesic. The model proposed is able to make a one-step-ahead prediction of the remifentanil dose corresponding to the current (...) state of the patient. The input information is the previous remifentanil dose, the ANI variable and the electromyogram signal. Modelling techniques used are Artificial Neural Networks and Support Vector machines for Regression combined with clustering methods. Both training and validation were done with a real dataset from different patients. Results obtained show the potential of this methodology to calculate the drug dose corresponding to a given analgesic state of the patient. (shrink)
Medicalization has been a process articulated primarily by social scientists, historians, and cultural critics. Comparatively little is written about the role of bioethics in appraising medicalization as a social process. The authors consider what medicalization means, its definition, functions, and criteria for assessment. A series of brief case sketches illustrate how bioethics can contribute to the analysis and public policy discussion of medicalization.
The analysis of a dispute can focus on either interests, rights, or power. Commentators often frame the conflict over conscience in clinical practice as a dispute between a patient’s right to legally available medical treatment and a clinician’s right to refuse to provide interventions the clinician finds morally objectionable. Multiple sources of unresolvable moral disagreement make resolution in these terms unlikely. One should instead focus on the parties’ interests and the different ways in which the health care delivery system can (...) accommodate them. In the specific case of pharmacists refusing to dispense emergency contraception, alternative systems such as advanced prescription, pharmacist provision, and over-the-counter sales may better reconcile the client’s interest in preventing unintended pregnancy and the pharmacist’s interest in not contravening his or her conscience. Within such an analysis, the ethicist’s role becomes identifying and clarifying the parties’ morally relevant interests. (shrink)
This paper is concerned with the moral justification for palliative sedation until death. Palliative sedation involves the intentional lowering of consciousness for the relief of untreatable symptoms. The paper focuses on the moral problems surrounding the intentional lowering of consciousness until death itself, rather than possible adjacent life-shortening effects. Starting from a Kantian perspective on virtue, it is shown that continuous deep sedation until death (CDS) does not conflict with the perfect duty of moral self-preservation because CDS does not destroy (...) capacities for agency. In addition, it is argued that CDS can frustrate the imperfect duty of self-cultivation by reducing consciousness permanently. Nevertheless, there are cases where CDS is morally acceptable, namely, cases where the agent has already permanently lost the possibility for free action in advance of sedation—for example, due to excruciating and ongoing pain. Because the latter can be difficult to diagnose properly, safeguards may be needed in order to prevent the application of CDS for the wrong reasons. (shrink)
The use of terminal sedation to control theintense discomfort of dying patients appearsboth to be an established practice inpalliative care and to run counter to the moraland legal norm that forbids health careprofessionals from intentionally killingpatients. This raises the worry that therequirements of established palliative care areincompatible with moral and legal opposition toeuthanasia. This paper explains how thedoctrine of double effect can be relied on todistinguish terminal sedation from euthanasia. The doctrine of double effect is rooted inCatholic moral casuistry, but (...) its applicationin law and morality need not depend on theparticular framework in which it was developed. The paper further explains how the moral weightof the distinction between intended harms andmerely foreseen harms in the doctrine of doubleeffect can be justified by appeal to alimitation on the human capacity to pursue good. (shrink)
Disagreement about the properattitude toward disability proliferates. Yetlittle attention has been paid to an importantmeta-question, namely, whether ``disability'' isan essentially contested concept. If so, recentdebates between bioethicists and the disabilitymovement leadership cannot be resolved. Inthis essay I identify some of the presumptionsthat make their encounters so contentious. Much more must happen, I argue, for anydiscussions about disability policy andpolitics to be productive. Progress depends onconstructing a neutral conception ofdisability, one that neither devaluesdisability nor implies that persons withdisabilities are inadequate. So, (...) first, I clearaway the conceptual underbrush that makes usthink our idea of disability must bevalue-laden. Second, I sketch someconstituents of, and constraints upon, aneutral notion of disability. (shrink)
The concept of disease has been the subject ofa vast, vivid and versatile debate. Categoriessuch as ``realist'', ``nominalist'', ``ontologist'',``physiologist'', ``normativist'' and``descriptivist'' have been applied to classifydisease concepts. These categories refer tounderlying theoretical frameworks of thedebate. The objective of this review is toanalyse these frameworks. It is argued that thecategories applied in the debate refer toprofound philosophical issues, and that thecomplexity of the debate reflects thecomplexity of the concept itself: disease is acomplex concept, and does not easily lenditself to definition.
Respect for human embryos is often defended on the basis of the potentiality argument: embryos deserve respect because they already possess potentially the features that in adults are fully actualized. Opponents of this argument challenge it by claiming that if embryos should be respected because they are potentially adults, then gametes should be respected because they are potentially embryos. This article rejects this reductio ad absurdum argument by showing that there are two different types of potentiality involved so that the (...) transitivity of potentiality does not hold up in this case. Respect for embryos does not logically entail respect for gametes. (shrink)
Objectives: Young people who are concerned that consultations may not remain confidential are reluctant to consult their doctors, especially about sensitive issues. This study sought to identify issues and concerns of adolescents, and their parents, in relation to confidentiality and teenagers’ personal health information.Setting: Recruitment was conducted in paediatric dermatology and generalsurgery outpatient clinics, and on generalsurgery paediatric wards. Interviews were conducted in subjects’ own homes.Methods: Semistructured interviews were used for this exploratory qualitative study. (...) Interviews were carried out with 11 young women and nine young men aged 14–17. Parents of 18 of the young people were interviewed separately. Transcripts of tape recorded interviews provided the basis for a framework analysis.Results: Young women were more concerned than young men, and older teenagers more concerned than younger teenagers, about people other than their general practitioner having access to their health information. Young people with little experience of the healthcare system were less happy than those with greater knowledge of the National Health Service for non-medical staff to access their health information. As they grow older, adolescents become increasingly concerned that their health information should remain confidential.Conclusion: Young people’s willingness to be open in consultations could be enhanced by doctors taking time to explain to them that their discussion is completely confidential. Alternatively, if for any reason confidentiality cannot be assured, doctors should explain why. (shrink)
The main object of criticism of present-day medical ethics is the standard view of the relationship between theory and practice. Medical ethics is more than the application of moral theories and principles, and health care is more than the domain of application of moral theories. Moral theories and principles are necessarily abstract, and therefore fail to take account of the sometimes idiosyncratic reality of clinical work and the actual experiences of practitioners. Suggestions to remedy the illnesses of contemporary medical ethics (...) focus on re-establishing the connection between the internal and external morality of medicine. This article discusses the question how to develop a theoretical perspective on medical ethical issues that connects philosophical reflection with the everyday realities of medical practice. Four steps in a comprehensive approach of medical ethics research are distinguished: (1) examine health care contexts in order to obtain a better understanding of the internal morality of these practices; this requires empirical research; (2) analyze and interpret the external morality governing health care practices; sociological study of prevalent values, norms, and attitudes concerning medical-ethical issues is required; (3) creation of new theoretical perspectives on health care practices; Jensen's theory of healthcare practices will be useful here; (4) develop a new conception of bioethics that illuminates and clarifies the complex interaction between the internal and external morality of health care practices. Hermeneutical ethics can be helpful for integrating the experiences disclosed in the empirical ethical studies, as well as utilizing the insights gained from describing the value-contexts of health care practices. For a critical and normative perspective, hermeneutical ethics has to examine and explain the moral experiences uncovered, in order to understand what they tell us. (shrink)
Among the different approaches to questions of biomedical ethics, there is a view that stresses the importance of a patient’s right to make her own decisions in evaluative questions concerning her own well-being. This approach, the autonomy-based approach to biomedical ethics, has usually led to the adoption of a subjective theory of well-being on the basis of its commitment to the value of autonomy and to the view that well-being is always relative to a subject. In this article, it is (...) argued that these two commitments need not lead to subjectivism concerning the nature of well-being. (shrink)
David Thomasma called for the development of a medical ethics based squarely on the philosophy of medicine. He recognized, however, that widespread anti-essentialism presented a significant barrier to such an approach. The aim of this article is to introduce a theory that challenges these anti-essentialist objections. The notion of natural kinds presents a modest form of essentialism that can serve as the basis for a foundationalist philosophy of medicine. The notion of a natural kind is neither static nor reductionistic. Disease (...) can be understood as making necessary reference to living natural kinds without invoking the claim that diseases themselves are natural kinds. The idea that natural kinds have a natural disposition to flourish as the kinds of things that they are provides a telos to which to tether the notion of disease – an objective telos that is broader than mere survival and narrower than subjective choice. It is argued that while nosology is descriptive and may have therapeutic implications, disease classification is fundamentally explanatory. Sickness and illness, while referring to the same state of affairs, can be distinguished from disease phenomenologically. Scientific and diagnostic fallibility in making judgments about diseases do not diminish the objectivity of this notion of disease. Diseases are things, not kinds. Injury is a concept parallel to disease that also makes necessary reference to living natural kinds. These ideas provide a new possibility for the development of a philosophy of medicine with implications for medical ethics. (shrink)