The case for a statutory 'definition of death'.
Karen Quinlan, the American girl who has lain in deep coma for many months, is still 'alive', that is to say, her heart is still beating and brain death has not occurred. However, several other cases have raised difficult issues about the time of death. Dr Skegg argues that there is a case for a legal definition of death enshrined in statutory form. He suggests that many of the objections to a statutory provision on death are misplaced, and that a statute concerning the occurrence of death could remove all doubts in the minds of both doctors and public as to whether a 'beating heart cadaver' was dead or alive for legal purposes. (+info)
Do case studies mislead about the nature of reality?
This paper attempts a partial, critical look at the construction and use of case studies in ethics education. It argues that the authors and users of case studies are often insufficiently aware of the literary nature of these artefacts: this may lead to some confusion between fiction and reality. Issues of the nature of the genre, the fictional, story-constructing aspect of case studies, the nature of authorship, and the purposes and uses of case studies as "texts" are outlined and discussed. The paper concludes with some critical questions that can be applied to the construction and use of case studies in the light of the foregoing analysis. (+info)
Are MDs more intent on maintaining their elite status than in promoting public good?
The message that philosopher John Ralston Saul delivered during a recent CMA policy conference may have been unpopular with many physicians, but it wasn't intended to win their support. Instead, organizers wanted him to provide food for thought. Charlotte Gray reports that he did just that. (+info)
Health promotion for people with disabilities: the emerging paradigm shift from disability prevention to prevention of secondary conditions.
The premise of this article is that, until recently, health promotion for people with disabilities has been a neglected area of interest on the part of the general health community. Today, researchers, funding agencies, and health care providers and consumers are leading an effort to establish higher-quality health care for the millions of Americans with disabilities. The aims of a health promotion program for people with disabilities are to reduce secondary conditions (eg, obesity, hypertension, pressure sores), to maintain functional independence, to provide an opportunity for leisure and enjoyment, and to enhance the overall quality of life by reducing environmental barriers to good health. A greater emphasis must be placed on community-based health promotion initiatives for people with disabilities in order to achieve these objectives. (+info)
Paradigms in epidemiology textbooks: in the footsteps of Thomas Kuhn.
This article attempts to contribute to the debate on the future of epidemiology by combining Thomas Kuhn's ideas on scientific paradigms with the author's observations on some epidemiology textbooks. The author's interpretations were based on his readings of Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, epidemiology textbooks, and papers on the future of epidemiology. Thomas Kuhn's view is that sciences mostly work with a single paradigm driven by exemplars of successful work, and that proposals for paradigm change are resisted. Sciences that are maturing or changing do not have a dominant paradigm. Epidemiology textbooks showed diversity in their concepts, content, and approach. Most exemplars related to etiologic research rather than public health practice. One key focus of the recent controversy regarding the role of epidemiology has been the increasing inability of epidemiology to solve socially based public health problems. Kuhn's views help explain the polarization of views expressed. Kuhn's philosophy of science offers insights into controversies such as whether a paradigm shift is needed or imminent and the gap between epidemiology and public health practice. Interaction between science philosophers, epidemiologists, and public health practitioners may be valuable. (+info)
The role of ethical principles in health care and the implications for ethical codes.
A common ethical code for everybody involved in health care is desirable, but there are important limitations to the role such a code could play. In order to understand these limitations the approach to ethics using principles and their application to medicine is discussed, and in particular the implications of their being prima facie. The expectation of what an ethical code can do changes depending on how ethical properties in general are understood. The difficulties encountered when ethical values are applied reactively to an objective world can be avoided by seeing them as a more integral part of our understanding of the world. It is concluded that an ethical code can establish important values and describe a common ethical context for health care but is of limited use in solving new and complex ethical problems. (+info)
Re-examining death: against a higher brain criterion.
While there is increasing pressure on scarce health care resources, advances in medical science have blurred the boundary between life and death. Individuals can survive for decades without consciousness and individuals whose whole brains are dead can be supported for extended periods. One suggested response is to redefine death, justifying a higher brain criterion for death. This argument fails because it conflates two distinct notions about the demise of human beings--the one, biological and the other, ontological. Death is a biological phenomenon. This view entails the rejection of a higher brain criterion of death. Moreover, I claim that the justification of the whole brain (or brain stem) criterion of death is also cast into doubt by these advances in medical science. I proceed to argue that there is no need to redefine death in order to identify which treatments ought to be provided for the permanently and irreversibly unconscious. There are already clear treatment guidelines. (+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)