Resolving the Vexing Question of Credentialing: Finding the Aristotelian Mean Content Type Journal Article Pages 263-273 DOI 10.1007/s10730-009-9100-2 Authors Jeffrey P. Spike, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Center for Health, Humanities, and the Human Spirit, Director of the Campus Wide Ethics Program 6431 Fannin, JJL 400 Houston Texas 77030 USA Journal HEC Forum Online ISSN 1572-8498 Print ISSN 0956-2737 Journal Volume Volume 21 Journal Issue Volume 21, Number 3.
How can one be trained to enter the evolving field of clinical ethics consultation? The classroom is not the proper place to teach clinical ethics consultation; it is best done in a clinical setting. The author maps the elements that might be included in an apprenticeship, and sets out propositions for debate regarding the training needed for clinical ethics consultants and directors of clinical ethics consultation services.
A barrier to the development and refinement of ethics education in and across health professional schools is that there is not an agreed upon instrument or method for assessment in ethics education. The most widely used ethics education assessment instrument is the Defining Issues Test (DIT) I & II. This instrument is not specific to the health professions. But it has been modified for use in, and influenced the development of other instruments in, the health professions. The DIT contains certain (...) philosophical assumptions (“Kohlbergian” or “neo-Kohlbergian”) that have been criticized in recent years. It is also expensive for large institutions to use. The purpose of this article is to offer a rubric—which the authors have named the Health Professional Ethics Rubric—for the assessment of several learning outcomes related to ethics education in health science centers. This rubric is not open to the same philosophical critiques as the DIT and other such instruments. This rubric is also practical to use. This article includes the rubric being advocated, which was developed by faculty and administrators at a large academic health science center as a part of a campus-wide ethics education initiative. The process of developing the rubric is described, as well as certain limitations and plans for revision. (shrink)
Living organ donation will soon become the source of the majority of organs donations for transplant. Should mentally handicapped people be allowed to donate, or should they be considered a vulnerable group in need of protection? I discuss three cases of possible living organ donors who are developmentally disabled, from three different cultures, the United States, Germany, and India. I offer a brief discussion of three issues raised by the cases: (1) cultural diversity and cultural relativism; (2) autonomy, rationality, and (...) self-interest; and (3) the proper use and role for clinical ethics consults. (shrink)
Ruth Macklin's new book, AgainstRelativism, says in its subtitle that it intends to address cultural diversity and the search for ethical universals in medicine. This it does very well. Every chapter includes some discussion of cultural relativism, cultural anthropology, or postmodernism, and her analyses are acute and scathing. Macklin is unabashed in her defense of the principles of medical ethics, and she gives a strong argument that principles are essential elements of any ethical system that is to successfully survive the (...) skeptical doubts of relativism. (shrink)
The dearth of philosophical contributions to medicine has recently been discussed in a series of articles in this journal. The present article focuses on physicians' lack of training in philosophy as a part of the explanation of the scarcity of works in philosophy of medicine. In section I I outline two philosophy courses which would be reasonable additions to the medical school curriculum required of all medical students. In section II I suggest two other philosophy courses as electives in a (...) medical education. All four courses are in the fields of epistemology and metaphysics, and so will help others see the relevance to medicine of philosophical fields other than ethics. (shrink)
Individuals who are profoundly mentally handicapped do not have the capacity to make their own decisions and also do not have a past record of decisions, from when they had capacity, to guide us in making decisions for them. They represent a difficult group, ethically, for surrogate decision making. Here I propose some guidelines, distinguishing between these patients and patients in a persistent vegetative state . As the life span of patients becomes shorter, or their level of consciousness becomes permanently (...) impaired, the presumption for comfort care should become an imperative, and the standard of evidence to justify any invasive intervention should become higher. For members of this population, who have no more ability to refuse treatment than to consent to it, protection of the vulnerable must mean allowing a peaceful death as well as a comfortable life. Reasonable legal safeguards are also proposed to allow improved end-of-life decisions to be made for this population. (shrink)
The author analyzes the lessons for ethics consultants presented by McCrary and colleagues in their case, “Elective Delivery Before 39 Weeks’ Gestation: Reconciling Maternal, Fetal, and Family Interests in Challenging Circumstances.” Clinical ethics cases that involve different specialists representing the best interests of different parties in a case, such as this case involving neonatologists and perinatologists, are complex and time-consuming. The author concludes that ethics must insure the interests of the fetus and future person are not subsumed to the interests (...) of those with a voice, without deliberate reflection and strong ethical justification. (shrink)
Surgical ethics is a well-recognized field in clinical ethics, distinct from medical ethics. It includes at least a dozen important issues common to surgery that do not exist in internal medicine simply because of the differences in their practices. But until now there has been a tendency to include ethical issues of anesthesiology as a part of surgical ethics. This may mask the importance of ethical issues in anesthesiology, and even help perpetuate an unfortunate view that surgeons are “captain of (...) the ship” in the operating theater (leaving anesthesiologists in a subservient role. We will have a better ethical understanding if we see surgery and anesthesia as two equal partners, ethically as well as in terms of patient care. Informed consent is one such issue, but it is not limited to that. Even on the topic of what type of anesthesia to use, anesthesiologists have often felt subsumed to the surgeon’s preferences. This commentary takes the case study and uses it as a exemplar for this very claim: it is time to give due recognition for a new field in clinical ethics, ethics in anesthesia. (shrink)