Medical practice: defendants and prisoners.
It is argued in this paper that a doctor cannot serve two masters. The work of the prison medical officer is examined and it is shown that his dual allegiance to the state and to those individuals who are under his care results in activities which largely favour the former. The World Health Organisation prescribes a system of health ethics which indicates, in qualitative terms, the responsibility of each state for health provisions. In contrast, the World Medical Association acts as both promulgator and guardian of a code of medical ethics which determines the responsibilities of the doctor to his patient. In the historical sense medical practitioners have always emphasized the sanctity of the relationship with their patients and the doctor's role as an expert witness is shown to have centered around this bond. The development of medical services in prisons has focused more on the partnership between doctor and institution. Imprisonment in itself could be seen as prejudicial to health as are disciplinary methods which are more obviously detrimental. The involvement of medical practitioners in such procedures is discussed in the light of their role as the prisoner's personal physician. (+info)
Conditions required for a law on active voluntary euthanasia: a survey of nurses' opinions in the Australian Capital Territory.
OBJECTIVES: To ascertain which conditions nurses believe should be in a law allowing active voluntary euthanasia (AVE). DESIGN: Survey questionnaire posted to registered nurses (RNs). SETTING: Australian Capital Territory (ACT) at the end of 1996, when active voluntary euthanasia was legal in the Northern Territory. SURVEY SAMPLE: A random sample of 2,000 RNs, representing 54 per cent of the RN population in the ACT. MAIN MEASURES: Two methods were used to look at nurses' opinions. The first involved four vignettes which varied in terms of critical characteristics of each patient who was requesting help to die. The respondents were asked if the law should be changed to allow any of these requests. There was also a checklist of conditions, most of which have commonly been included in Australian proposed laws on AVE. The respondents chose those which they believed should apply in a law on AVE. RESULTS: The response rate was 61%. Support for a change in the law to allow AVE was 38% for a young man with AIDS, 39% for an elderly man with early stage Alzheimer's disease, 44% for a young woman who had become quadriplegic and 71% for a middle-aged woman with metastases from breast cancer. The conditions most strongly supported in any future AVE law were: "second doctor's opinion", "cooling off period", "unbearable protracted suffering", "patient fully informed about illness and treatment" and "terminally ill". There was only minority support for "not suffering from treatable depression", "administer the fatal dose themselves" and "over a certain age". CONCLUSION: Given the lack of support for some conditions included in proposed AVE laws, there needs to be further debate about the conditions required in any future AVE bills. (+info)
Physicians' perceptions of managed care.
We wished to determine physicians' views and knowledge of managed care, particularly their beliefs about the provisions of managed care contracts in terms of legality and ethics. A questionnaire was sent to the 315 physicians of the medical staff of Norwalk Hospital in Connecticut regarding managed care and managed care contracts. Sixty-six responses were received within a 45-day period (20.9% return). Although only 1 of 11 contract provisions presented in one section of the questionnaire was illegal in Connecticut, a majority of physicians believed 7 of the 11 were illegal. On average, 50% of physicians polled thought each of the provisions was illegal, and a varying majority of physicians (53% to 95.4%) felt the various provisions were unethical. The majority of respondents (84.8% to 92.4%) believed that nondisclosure provisions were unethical. Ninety-seven percent thought managed care interferes with quality of care, and 72.7% of physicians felt that the managed care industry should be held legally responsible for ensuring quality of care. However, 92.4% of physicians considered themselves to be ethically responsible for ensuring quality of care. Physicians have a poor understanding of the legal aspects of managed care contracts but feel strongly that many provisions of these contracts are unethical. Physicians also believe that managed care is causing medicine to be practiced in a manner that is contrary to patients' interests and that legal recourse is needed to prevent this. (+info)
International developments in abortion law from 1988 to 1998.
OBJECTIVES: In 2 successive decades since 1967, legal accommodation of abortion has grown in many countries. The objective of this study was to assess whether liberalizing trends have been maintained in the last decade and whether increased protection of women's human rights has influenced legal reform. METHODS: A worldwide review was conducted of legislation and judicial rulings affecting abortion, and legal reforms were measured against governmental commitments made under international human rights treaties and at United Nations conferences. RESULTS: Since 1987, 26 jurisdictions have extended grounds for lawful abortion, and 4 countries have restricted grounds. Additional limits on access to legal abortion services include restrictions on funding of services, mandatory counseling and reflection delay requirements, third-party authorizations, and blockades of abortion clinics. CONCLUSIONS: Progressive liberalization has moved abortion laws from a focus on punishment toward concern with women's health and welfare and with their human rights. However, widespread maternal mortality and morbidity show that reform must be accompanied by accessible abortion services and improved contraceptive care and information. (+info)
Human cloning and child welfare.
In this paper we discuss an objection to human cloning which appeals to the welfare of the child. This objection varies according to the sort of harm it is expected the clone will suffer. The three formulations of it that we will consider are: 1. Clones will be harmed by the fearful or prejudicial attitudes people may have about or towards them (H1); 2. Clones will be harmed by the demands and expectations of parents or genotype donors (H2); 3. Clones will be harmed by their own awareness of their origins, for example the knowledge that the genetic donor is a stranger (H3). We will show why these three versions of the child welfare objection do not necessarily supply compelling reasons to ban human reproductive cloning. The claim that we will develop and defend in the course of our discussion is that even if it is the case that a cloned child will suffer harms of the type H1-H3, it is none the less permissible to conceive by cloning so long as these cloning-induced welfare deficits are not such as to blight the existence of the resultant child, whoever this may be. (+info)
Genetic testing: a conceptual exploration.
This paper attempts to explore a number of conceptual issues surrounding genetic testing. It looks at the meaning of the terms, genetic information and genetic testing in relation to the definition set out by the Advisory Committee on Genetic Testing in the UK, and by the Task Force on Genetic Testing in the USA. It argues that the special arrangements that may be required for the regulation of genetic tests should not be determined by reference to the nature or technology of the test, but by considering those morally relevant features that justify regulation. Failure to do so will lead to the regulation of genetic tests that need not be regulated, and would fail to cover other tests which should be regulated. The paper also argues that there is little in the nature of the properties of gene tests, using DNA or chromosomes, that in itself justifies a special approach. (+info)
Genetics and the British insurance industry.
Genetics and genetic testing raise key issues for insurance and employment. Governmental and public concern galvanised the British insurance industry into developing a code of practice. The history of the development of the code, issues of genetic discrimination, access to medical information, consent and the dangers of withholding information and the impact on the equity of pooled risk are explored. Proactive steps by the Association of British Insurers suggest that moral reflection not legislation is the way forward. (+info)