Thursday, October 04, 2007
BLOGSCAN - How the Principle of Social Justice Conflicts with the Principles of Patient Welfare and Patient Autonomy
On the Covert Rationing blog, this post discusses how the two principles traditionally recognized as central to physicians' ethics and professionalism, the principle of patient welfare, and the principle of patient autonomy, are in conflict with what DrRich calls the more newly promoted principle of social justice, i.e., the idea that doctors are somehow responsible for the fair distribution of society's resources. I would add that it may be hard to figure out what would be the best possible clinical management for a single patient, or what a single patient really wants, but it doesn't seem impossible to do so. On the other hand, the definition of the "fair distribution of social resources" is, shall we say, somewhat flexible. And often such a definition is politically defined, by those with the most political power at a given time. This is an important issue and DrRich's post deserves thoughtful consideration.