Healthcare

Patient ChoiceAug 09

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Patient choice, in all its forms, is one of the most controversial topics in healthcare today. Whether it is a debate on a patient’s right to assisted suicide, access to unapproved treatments or ability to refuse lifesaving treatment for themselves or a child, patient choice is sure to provoke an emotional response. In this week’s call, we’ll explore the limitations of a patient’s rights versus the obligation of doctors, insurers or the government to ensure the well-being of the patient and society as a whole.

Guiding questions include:

1. Should a patient have a right choose a treatment regiment that will likely be ineffective? What if the treatment regimen will likely harm the patient?

2. Should a parent or legal guardian of a child under 18 have the same medical choices for their child as they do for themselves? E.g., the ability to avoid a prescribed treatment regimen?

3. Should a doctor be able to assist in the suicide of a mentally capable patient? Is this ethically right? Is it ethical for a doctor to comply with a patient’s desire to avoid life-saving treatment? Are these two scenarios different? If so, why?

4. How much risk should doctors (or the law) allow patients to take on when deciding on a treatment regimen? Should this apply to treatments unapproved by the FDA? If so, what is the role of the FDA?

Reading:

Arguments for and against assisted suicide

About Physician-assisted Suicide

Woman first to use Washington’s Assisted Suicide Law

Abigail Alliance v von Eschenbach [Wikipedia]

Abigail Alliance v von Eschenbach:  A Debate

Judge rules teen must get cancer treatment

Parents’ Rights, Judges Rules

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