In 2001, leaders with palliative care convened to discuss the standardization of palliative care and formed the National Consensus Project for Quality Palliative Care. In 2004, the National Consensus Project for Quality Palliative Care produced the first edition of Clinical Guidelines for Quality Palliative Care. The Guidelines were developed by leaders in the field who examined other national and international standards with the intent to promote consistent, accessible, comprehensive, optimal palliative care through the health care spectrum. Within the guidelines there (...) are eight domains to the provision of palliative care. This article focuses on the last, but very significant Domain 8—Ethical and Legal Aspects of Care. (shrink)
Written with poignancy and compassion, Do We Still Need Doctors? is a personal account from the front lines of the moral and political battles that are reshaping America's health care system. Using compelling firsthand experiences, clinical vignettes, and moral arguments, John D. Lantos, a pediatrician, asks whether, as we proceed with the redesign of our health care system, doctors will -- or should -- continue to fulfill the roles and responsibilities that they have in the past. Interspersing moving (...) personal stories of his young patients suffering from AIDS, cancer, and other chronic or terminal illnesses with his own stirring dilemmas of truth telling, creative navigation of HMO bureaucracy, and reflections on the identity crisis of medical education, Dr. Lantos reveals how changes in out health care system and new technologies are fostering new ways of understanding and responding to illness. He taps into the public's sense of wanting doctors and hospitals to do something other than what they do now and the frustrating disagreement about what they should do in the future. (shrink)
I was recently invited to talk about ethics with the staff of a level‐three neonatal intensive care unit. They presented a case featuring a full‐term baby born by emergency caesarean‐section after a cord prolapse that caused prolonged anoxia. Her initial pH was 6.7. She was intubated and resuscitated in the delivery room. Her Apgar score remained at 1 for ten minutes. Further evaluation over the next two days revealed severe brain damage. Her prognosis was dismal.The doctors recommended a do‐not‐resuscitate order. (...) The parents agreed. The doctors suggested a gastrostomy tube. The parents disagreed. Instead, they requested that fluid and nutrition be discontinued. The emotions in the room, as we started to discuss the case, were strong and discordant. Eventually, the conversation wound down. They turned, expectantly, to the visiting bioethicist. (shrink)
The Surfactant, Positive Pressure, and Oxygenation Randomized Trial (SUPPORT) has been the focal point of many different criticisms regarding the ethics of the study ever since publication of the trial's findings in 2010 and 2012. In this article, we focus on a concern that the technical design and implementation details of the study were ethically flawed. While the federal Office Human Research Protections focused on the consent form, rather than on the study design and implementation, OHRP's critiques of the consent (...) form reveal views about the study design and implementation that we believe are fundamentally flawed. These criticisms about the design and implementation of SUPPORT, if generalized, become relevant concerns about these aspects of many comparative effectiveness research studies.Our analytical approach will be to use SUPPORT as a prime example of comparative effectiveness research and show why it challenges some prevailing assumptions about the riskiness of research. We will address five aspects of the study design and implementation: 1) randomization, 2) treatment by protocol, 3) choice of endpoints, 4) lack of a “standard care” control group, and 5) the use of altered oximeters. Examining these aspects will allow us to answer two specific central questions. The first is a methodological question with ethical implications: was the study designed in such a way as to answer the primary study question? The second question is whether the study design added or decreased risk to the babies enrolled in the study compared to babies who were not in the study. (shrink)
Many scientists and doctors hope that affordable genome sequencing will lead to more personalized medical care and improve public health in ways that will benefit children, families, and society more broadly. One hope in particular is that all newborns could be sequenced at birth, thereby setting the stage for a lifetime of medical care and self‐directed preventive actions tailored to each child's genome. Indeed, commentators often suggest that universal genome sequencing is inevitable. Such optimism can come with the presumption that (...) discussing the potential limits, cost, and downsides of widespread application of genomic technologies is pointless, excessively pessimistic, or overly cautious. We disagree. Given the pragmatic challenges associated with determining what sequencing data mean for the health of individuals, the economic costs associated with interpreting and acting on such data, and the psychosocial costs of predicting one's own or one's child's future life plans based on uncertain testing results, we think this hope and optimism deserve to be tempered.In the analysis that follows, we distinguish between two reasons for using sequencing: to diagnose individual infants who have been identified as sick and to screen populations of infants who appear to be healthy. We also distinguish among three contexts in which sequencing for either diagnosis or screening could be deployed: in clinical medicine, in public health programs, and as a direct‐to‐consumer service. Each of these contexts comes with different professional norms, policy considerations, and public expectations. Finally, we distinguish between two main types of genome sequencing: targeted sequencing, where only specific genes are sequenced or analyzed, and whole‐exome or whole‐genome sequencing, where all the DNA or all the coding segments of all genes are sequenced and analyzed.In a symptomatic newborn, targeted or genome‐wide sequencing can help guide other tests for diagnosis or for specific treatment that is urgently needed. Clinicians use the infant's symptoms (or phenotype) to interrogate the sequencing data. These same complexities and uncertainties, however, limit the usefulness of genome‐wide sequencing as a population screening tool. While we recognize considerable benefit in using targeted sequencing to screen for or detect specific conditions that meet the criteria for inclusion in newborn screening panels, use of genome‐wide sequencing as a sole screening tool for newborns is at best premature. We conclude that sequencing technology can be beneficially used in newborns when that use is nuanced and attentive to context. (shrink)
Perceptual constancy, often defined as the perception of stable features under changing conditions, goes hand in hand with variation in how things look. A white wall in the orange afternoon sun still looks white, though its whiteness looks different compared with the same wall in the noon sun. Historically, this variation has often been explained in terms of our experience of “merely sensory” or subjective properties – an approach at odds with the fact that the variation does track objective features (...) of the perceptual situation, such as illumination. One approach, becoming more common, is to account for the variation in terms of further “dimensions” to perceptual experience. Especially in colour perception, this is a natural thought to have but the idea is often left vague. In this paper I argue that the “dimensional” strategy has problems of its own, but is useful in drawing out some interesting complications in the way perceptual experience is structured. Specifically, the structure of “constancy spaces” brings out the different ways in which there is stability and instability in the experience of constancy, without the need for novel or merely subjective features. Instability arises in a contingent structural feature of perceptual experience. (shrink)
Reid, Constance. Hilbert (a Biography). Reviewed by Corcoran in Philosophy of Science 39 (1972), 106–08. -/- Constance Reid was an insider of the Berkeley-Stanford logic circle. Her San Francisco home was in Ashbury Heights near the homes of logicians such as Dana Scott and John Corcoran. Her sister Julia Robinson was one of the top mathematical logicians of her generation, as was Julia’s husband Raphael Robinson for whom Robinson Arithmetic was named. Julia was a Tarski PhD and, (...) in recognition of a distinguished career, was elected President of the American Mathematics Society. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julia_Robinson http://www.awm-math.org/noetherbrochure/Robinson82.html. (shrink)
Most bioethicists and professional medical societies condemn the practice of ?slow codes.? The American College of Physicians ethics manual states, ?Because it is deceptive, physicians or nurses should not perform half-hearted resuscitation efforts (?slow codes?).? A leading textbook calls slow codes ?dishonest, crass dissimulation, and unethical.? A medical sociologist describes them as ?deplorable, dishonest and inconsistent with established ethical principles.? Nevertheless, we believe that slow codes may be appropriate and ethically defensible in situations in which cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is likely (...) to be ineffective, the family decision makers understand and accept that death is inevitable, and those family members cannot bring themselves to consent or even assent to a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order. In such cases, we argue, physicians may best serve both the patient and the family by having a carefully ambiguous discussion about end-of-life options and then providing resuscitation efforts that are less vigorous or prolonged than usual. (shrink)
There are some paradoxes in the way doctors and patients make medical decisions today. Today's patients are more empowered than were patients in the past. They have the right to see their medical records. The law requires doctors to obtain their informed consent for treatment. Patients are told about the options for treatment and the risks and benefits of each option. Their values and preferences are elucidated in order to guide the treatments that are provided.
This book makes available again a long out-of-print translation of a major sixteenth-century philosophical text. Lipsius' De Constantia (1584) is an important Humanist text and a key moment in the reception of Stoicism. A dialogue in two books, conceived as a philosophical consolation for those suffering through contemporary religious wars, it proved immensely popular in its day and formed the inspiration for what has become known as 'Neostoicism'. This movement advocated the revival of Stoic ethics in a form that would (...) be palatable to a Christian audience. Lipsius deploys Stoic arguments concerning appropriate attitudes towards emotions and external events. He also makes clear which parts of Stoic philosophy must be rejected, including its materialism and its determinism. De Constantia was translated into a number of vernacular languages soon after its original publication in Latin. Of the English translations which were made, that by Sir John Stradling (1595) became a classic; it was last reprinted in 1939. This new edition offers a lightly revised version of Stradling's translation, along with a new introduction, notes, and bibliography. (shrink)
I am currently caring for a child named Priscilla who is ventilator-dependent and whose care confronted me with questions of justice. Priscilla was born at the County Hospital after a normal pregnancy to a 17-year-old single mother. At birth, she was noted to have some dysmorphic features: widely spaced eyes, low-set ears, and a cleft palate. Her chest X-ray showed hypoplastic ribs and scapulae. Her chromosome studies were normal. Eventually, a diagnosis of a rare dwarfing syndrome campomelic dysplasia – was (...) made. (shrink)
The growth of managed care was accompanied by concern about the impact that changes in health care organization would have on the doctor-patient relationship. We now are in a “post-managed care era,” where some of these changes in health care delivery have come to pass while others have not. A re-examination of the DPR in this setting suggests some surprising results. Rather than posing a new and unprecedented threat, managed care was simply the most recent of numerous strains on the (...) DPR that have occurred throughout the century. These strains are a constant, inevitable consequence of the varying needs and concerns of patient and physicians as they seek to balance their desires for a certain type of DPR with their simultaneous desire for other aspects of care such as lower costs, greater technological sophistication, and improved outcomes. (shrink)
In current American medical practice, autonomy is assumed to be more valuable than human life: if a patient autonomously refuses lifesaving treatment, the doctors are supposed to let him die. In this paper we discuss two values that might be at stake in such clinical contexts. Usually, we hear only of autonomy and best interests. However, here, autonomy is ambiguous between two concepts—concepts that are tied to different values and to different philosophical traditions. In some cases, the two values (that (...) of agency and that of authenticity) entail different outcomes. We argue that the comparative value of these values needs to be assessed. (shrink)
Star Trek scripts have often grappled with dilemmas of medical ethics. The most explicitly medical-ethics-oriented Star Trek episode is named, aptly enough, “Ethics.” The script was written by Sara Charno and Stuart Charno, authors of two other Star Trek episodes. “Ethics” first aired on 2 March 1992. In the fall of 1992, we began to use this “Ethics” episode to motivate discussions in our first-year medical students’ course on medical ethics and the doctor-patient relationship. We asked students to write essays (...) addressing one of the many ethical dilemmas posed by the episode. Over the years, the episode has become a tradition. Both students and instructors find the formulation of dilemmas in the context of a science-fiction story to be both liberating and stimulating. In this essay, we will discuss this particular episode in some detail and then provide a brief synopsis of other episodes that might be used in ethics courses in a similar way. (shrink)
In this paper, we examine healthcare organizations’ responses to high profile cases of doctor–parent disagreement. We argue that, once a conflict crosses a certain threshold of public interest, the stakes of the disagreement change in important ways. They are no longer only the stakes of the child’s interests or who has decision‐making authority, but also the stakes of public trust in healthcare practitioners and organizations and the wide scale spread of medical misinformation. These higher stakes call for robust organization‐level responses. (...) There are responsible and thoughtful ways for healthcare organizations to directly engage with these cases. Hospitals should seek an alliance with the parents around the goal of public discussion and utilize web‐based platforms to provide the public with information about medical conditions, experimental treatments, and how clinical ethics deliberation in hospitals works. We outline five important lessons for healthcare organizations to keep in mind when responding to such cases. Approached with care, these cases could become “teachable moments” for both healthcare organizations and society. (shrink)
A commentary on “Were There ‘Additional Foreseeable Risks’ in the SUPPORT Study?,” by Henry J. Silverman and Didier Dreyfuss; “SUPPORT: Risks, Harms, and Equipoise,” by Robert M. Nelson; “The Controversy over SUPPORT Continues and the Hyperbole Increases,” by Alan R. Fleischman; and “SUPPORT and Comparative Effectiveness Trials: What's at Stake?,” by Lois Shepherd, all in the January‐February 2015 issue.
It used to be futile to try to save babies born at 23 weeks. It isn’t anymore. It used to be futile to try to keep patients with end-stage congestive heart failure alive. It isn’t anymore. Futility is a moving target. Thus, it is not surprising that doctors, patients, and families often disagree about which treatments are efficacious or futile, appropriate or inappropriate, obligatory or obligatorily withheld. The goalposts keep moving. Yesterday’s impossibility is today’s routine. Why should a patient believe (...) a doctor who says that treatment is futile, inappropriate, or likely to cause more harm than good? Could it just mean that the doctors are unwilling to try everything that is available? When... (shrink)
There is an inconsistency in the ways that doctors make clinical decisions regarding the treatment of babies born extremely prematurely. Many experts now recommend that clinical decisions about the treatment of such babies be individualized and consider many different factors. Nevertheless, many policies and practices throughout Europe and North America still appear to base decisions on gestational age alone or on gestational age as the primary factor that determines whether doctors recommend or even offer life-sustaining neonatal intensive care treatment. These (...) policies are well intentioned. They aim to guide doctors and parents to make decisions that are best for the baby. That is an ethically appropriate goal. But in relying so heavily on gestational age, such policies may actually do the babies a disservice by denying some babies treatment that might be beneficial and lead to intact survival. In this paper, we argue that such policies are unjust to premature babies and ought to be abolished. In their place, we propose individualized treatment decisions for premature babies. This would treat premature babies as we treat all other patients, with clinical decisions based on an individualized estimation of likelihood that treatment would be beneficial. (shrink)
Neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) and medical intensive care units (MICUs) are both very expensive. The cost-effectiveness of NICUs has been extensively evaluated, as has the long-term outcomes of subpopulations of NICU patients. NICU treatment is among the most cost-effective of high-tech interventions. And most patients do well. There are fewer evaluations of cost-effectiveness in the MICU and almost no long-term outcome studies. Policymakers who scrutinize expensive high-tech interventions would do well to study the examples found in the NICU.
There is a debate at the highest levels of government about how to classify the risks of research studies that evaluate therapies that are in widespread use. Should the risks of those therapies be considered as risks of research that is designed to evaluate those therapies? Or not? The Common Rule states, “In evaluating risks and benefits, the IRB should consider only those risks and benefits that may result from the research.” ). By contrast, the Office of Human Research Protections, (...) in a proposed “guidance” states, “The reasonably foreseeable risks of research include already-identified risks of the standards of care being evaluated as a purpose of the research.”.In this paper, I argue that the Common Rule got it right and OHRP got it wrong. When treatments are in widespread use, the risks of those treatments are ever-present for all patients. By enrolling in formal studies that use rigorous methods to compare one treatment with another and that carefully monitor outcomes and adverse events, patients are protected from the risks of idiosyncratic practice variation. Their risks are decreased, rather than increased.If OHRP's approach becomes the law of the land, patients will be misinformed about the relative risks of treatment and research in ways that undermine autonomy rather than promoting it and that make truly informed consent impossible. (shrink)
As a result of recent legislative developments and greater ease of accessibility, the Human Resources Manager (HRM) faces the challenge of not only maintaining records but also that of protecting employees from misuse of personal information contained in their individual personnel files. The widespread use of computers for maintaining employee records has resulted in new ethical dimensions and/or challenges for the HRM. Serious questions regarding accessibility to and dissemination of such personal information now confront the HRM. Unless policies are developed (...) by organizations for dealing with such questions, eventually government will mandate such policies in order to protect employee rights. (shrink)