Voluntary euthanasia under control? Further empirical evidence from The Netherlands.
Nineteen ninety-six saw the publication of a major Dutch survey into euthanasia in the Netherlands. This paper outlines the main statistical findings of this survey and considers whether it shows that voluntary euthanasia is under effective control in the Netherlands. The paper concludes that although there has been some improvement in compliance with procedural requirements, the practice of voluntary euthanasia remains beyond effective control. (+info)
Slippery slopes in flat countries--a response.
In response to the paper by Keown and Jochemsen in which the latest empirical data concerning euthanasia and other end-of-life decisions in the Netherlands is discussed, this paper discusses three points. The use of euthanasia in cases in which palliative care was a viable alternative may be taken as proof of a slippery slope. However, it could also be interpreted as an indication of a shift towards more autonomy-based end-of-life decisions. The cases of non-voluntary euthanasia are a serious problem in the Netherlands and they are only rarely justifiable. However, they do not prove the existence of a slippery slope. Persuading the physician to bring euthanasia cases to the knowledge of the authorities is a problem of any euthanasia policy. The Dutch notification procedure has recently been changed to reduce the underreporting of cases. However, many questions remain. (+info)
Impact of therapeutic research on informed consent and the ethics of clinical trials: a medical oncology perspective.
PURPOSE: To create a more meaningful understanding of the informed consent process as it has come to be practiced and regulated in clinical trials, this discussion uses the experience gained from the conduct of therapeutic research that involves cancer patients. DESIGN: After an introduction of the ethical tenets of the consent process in clinical research that involves potentially vulnerable patients as research subjects, background that details the use of written consent documents and of the term "informed consent" is provided. Studies from the cancer setting that examine the inadequacies of written consent documents, and the outcome of the consent process itself, are reviewed. Two ethically challenging areas of cancer clinical research, the phase I trial and the randomized controlled trial, are discussed briefly as a means of highlighting many dilemmas present in clinical trials. Before concluding, areas for future research are discussed. RESULTS: Through an exclusive cancer research perspective, many current deficiencies in the informed consent process for therapeutic clinical trials can be critically examined. Also, new directions for improvements and areas of further research can be outlined and discussed objectively. The goals of such improvements and research should be prevention of further misguided or ineffective efforts to regulate the informed consent process. CONCLUSION: To ignore this rich and interesting perspective potentially contributes to continued misunderstanding and apathy toward fulfilling the regulatory and ethically obligatory requirements involved in an essential communication process between a clinician-investigator and a potentially vulnerable patient who is considering clinical trial participation. (+info)
Protective truthfulness: the Chinese way of safeguarding patients in informed treatment decisions.
The first part of this paper examines the practice of informed treatment decisions in the protective medical system in China today. The second part examines how health care professionals in China perceive and carry out their responsibilities when relaying information to vulnerable patients, based on the findings of an empirical study that I had undertaken to examine the moral experience of nurses in practice situations. In the Chinese medical ethics tradition, refinement [jing] in skills and sincerity [cheng] in relating to patients are two cardinal virtues that health care professionals are required to possess. This notion of absolute sincerity carries a strong sense of parental protectiveness. The empirical findings reveal that most nurses are ambivalent about telling the truth to patients. Truth-telling would become an insincere act if a patient were to lose hope and confidence in life after learning of his or her disease. In this system of protective medical care, it is arguable as to whose interests are being protected: the patient, the family or the hospital. I would suggest that the interests of the hospital and the family members who legitimately represent the patient's interests are being honoured, but at the expense of the patient's right to know. (+info)
Interpersonal processes of care in diverse populations.
Persons of lower socioeconomic status and members of racial and ethnic minority groups experience poorer health and increased health risk factors. A framework of interpersonal processes of care specifies distinct components and incorporates the perspective of diverse racial and ethnic or socioeconomic groups. Its dimensions, each with several domains, are communication (general clarity, elicitation of and responsiveness to patient concerns, explanations, empowerment), decision making (responsiveness to patient preferences, consideration of ability and desire to comply), and interpersonal style (friendliness, respectfulness, discrimination, cultural sensitivity, support). All the domains, except cultural sensitivity, were validated through a survey of 603 ethnically diverse, low-income adults. Confirmation of the framework's usefulness should enable researchers to explore how interpersonal processes might account for observed ethnic and social class differences in health care and health. (+info)
Arguments for zero tolerance of sexual contact between doctors and patients.
Some doctors do enter into sexual relationships with patients. These relationships can be damaging to the patient involved. One response available to both individual doctors and to disciplinary bodies is to prohibit sexual contact between doctors and patients ("zero tolerance"). This paper considers five ways of arguing for a zero tolerance policy. The first rests on an empirical claim that such contact is almost always harmful to the patient involved. The second is based on a "principles" approach while the third originates in "virtues" ethics. The fourth argues that zero tolerance is an "a priori" truth. These four attempt to establish that the behaviour is always wrong and ought, therefore, to be prohibited. The fifth argument is counterfactual. It claims a policy that allowed sexual contact would have unacceptable consequences. Given the responsibility of regulatory bodies to protect the public, zero tolerance is a natural policy to develop. (+info)
Clinical problems with the performance of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in The Netherlands.
BACKGROUND AND METHODS: The characteristics and frequency of clinical problems with the performance of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are uncertain. We analyzed data from two studies of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in The Netherlands (one conducted in 1990 and 1991 and the other in 1995 and 1996), with a total of 649 cases. We categorized clinical problems as technical problems, such as difficulty inserting an intravenous line; complications, such as myoclonus or vomiting; or problems with completion, such as a longer-than-expected interval between the administration of medications and death. RESULTS: In 114 cases, the physician's intention was to provide assistance with suicide, and in 535, the intention was to perform euthanasia. Problems of any type were more frequent in cases of assisted suicide than in cases of euthanasia. Complications occurred in 7 percent of cases of assisted suicide, and problems with completion (a longer-than-expected time to death, failure to induce coma, or induction of coma followed by awakening of the patient) occurred in 16 percent of the cases; complications and problems with completion occurred in 3 percent and 6 percent of cases of euthanasia, respectively. The physician decided to administer a lethal medication in 21 of the cases of assisted suicide (18 percent), which thus became cases of euthanasia. The reasons for this decision included problems with completion (in 12 cases) and the inability of the patient to take all the medications (in 5). CONCLUSIONS: There may be clinical problems with the performance of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. In The Netherlands, physicians who intend to provide assistance with suicide sometimes end up administering a lethal medication themselves because of the patient's inability to take the medication or because of problems with the completion of physician-assisted suicide. (+info)
Ethics in the laboratory examination of patients.
Various value problems are connected with the clinical examination of patients. The purpose of this literature review is to clarify: 1) in which patient examinations ethical problems are generally found; 2) what kind of ethical problems are found in the different phases of the examination process, and 3) what kind of ethical problems are found in connection with the use of examination results. Genetic testing, autopsy, prenatal and HIV examinations were ethically the most problematic laboratory examinations. The most problematic phase in the laboratory examination process proved to be the pre-analytic phase. At present the results of laboratory examination are used more and more often for the prediction of diseases. The problems appear when the examination results are used for discrimination and stigmatization. Because of the lack of empirical ethical research, it is important to chart empirical knowledge about present value conflict situations involved in the laboratory examination process. (+info)