(1/846) Assessment of physician-assisted death by members of the public prosecution in The Netherlands.
OBJECTIVES: To identify the factors that influence the assessment of reported cases of physician-assisted death by members of the public prosecution. DESIGN/SETTING: At the beginning of 1996, during verbal interviews, 12 short case-descriptions were presented to a representative group of 47 members of the public prosecution in the Netherlands. RESULTS: Assessment varied considerably between respondents. Some respondents made more "lenient" assessments than others. Characteristics of the respondents, such as function, personal-life philosophy and age, were not related to the assessment. Case characteristics, i.e. the presence of an explicit request, life expectancy and the type of suffering, strongly influenced the assessment. Of these characteristics, the presence or absence of an explicit request was the most important determinant of the decision whether or not to hold an inquest. CONCLUSIONS: Although the presence of an explicit request, life expectancy and the type of suffering each influenced the assessment, each individual assessment was dependent on the assessor. The resulting danger of legal inequality and legal uncertainty, particularly in complicated cases, should be kept to a minimum by the introduction of some form of protocol and consultation in doubtful or boundary cases. The notification procedure already promotes a certain degree of uniformity in the prosecution policy. (+info)
(2/846) 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)
(3/846) 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)
(4/846) Confidentiality and HIV status in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa: implications, resistances and challenges.
This article provides a contextualized comparison and analysis of the former Kwazulu and the new Kwazulu-Natal policy documents on HIV confidentiality, the differing practices within the region, and their implications for support and gender. It is based on interviews with key players in the regional NACOSA (National AIDS Convention of South Africa), and participation in meetings between August and November 1995. The main division is between those influenced by other rural African models, especially the Zambian concept of "shared confidentiality' as a way of ensuring support, and who have gone on to develop more community-based practices to destigmatize the disease, in contrast with the stronger emphasis in the new document on individual rights, assuming a more urban constituency, and where "shared confidentiality' is much more circumscribed. One of the difficulties of the new policy in which "confidentiality' is interpreted as "secrecy', is that it would seem to foreclose and neutralize lay and community support, as distinct from the earlier and unacknowledged policy of former Kwazulu. It also seeks to provide an enhanced role for professional counsellors. This psychologizing of the infection and the distancing from "community', and from women's groups, is surprising in a country in whose townships "community' remains a powerful motivating symbol, and where NGOs and peer groups have been identified everywhere as central to effective HIV/AIDS related prevention, care and support for behavior change. (+info)
(5/846) To tell the truth: disclosing the incentives and limits of managed care.
As managed care becomes more prevalent in the United States, concerns have arisen over the business practices of managed care companies. A particular concern is whether patients should be made aware of the financial incentives and treatment limits of their healthcare plan. At present, managed care organizations are not legally required to make such disclosures. However, such disclosures would be advisable for reasons of ethical fidelity, contractual clarity, and practical prudence. Physicians themselves may also have a fiduciary responsibility to discuss incentives and limits with their patients. Once the decision to disclose has been made, the managed care organization must draft a document that explains, clearly and honestly, limits of care in the plan and physician incentives that might restrict the care a patient receives. (+info)
(6/846) Patients' experience of surgical accidents.
OBJECTIVE: To examine the psychological impact of surgical accidents and assess the adequacy of explanations given to the patients involved. DESIGN: Postal questionnaire survey. SETTING: Subjects were selected from files held Action for Victims of Medical Accidents. PATIENTS: 154 surgical patients who had been injured by their treatment, who considered that their treatment had fallen below acceptable standards. MAIN MEASURES: Adequacy of explanations given to patients and responses to standard questionnaires assessing pain, distress, psychiatric morbidity, and psychosocial adjustment (general health questionnaire, impact of events scale, McGill pain questionnaire, and psychosocial adjustment to illness scale). RESULTS: 101 patients completed the questionnaires (69 women, 32 men; mean age 44 (median 41.5) years. Mean scores on the questionnaires indicated that these injured patients were more distressed than people who had suffered serious accidents or bereavements; their levels of pain were comparable, over a year after surgery, to untreated postoperative pain; and their psychosocial adjustment was considerably worse than in patients with serious illnesses. They were extremely unsatisfied with the explanations given about their accident, which they perceived as lacking in information, unclear, inaccurate, and given unsympathetically. Poor explanations were associated with higher levels of disturbing memories and poorer adjustment. CONCLUSIONS: Surgical accidents have a major adverse psychological impact on patients, and poor communication after the accident may increase patients' distress. IMPLICATIONS: Communication skills in dealing with such patients should be improved to ensure the clear and comprehensive explanations that they need. Many patients will also require psychological treatment to help their recovery. (+info)
(7/846) 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)
(8/846) Regulating the financial incentives facing physicians in managed care plans.
Recent accounts of enrolees in managed care plans being denied access to potentially lifesaving services have heightened public anxiety about the impact of managed care on the accessibility and appropriateness of care, and this anxiety has been translated into legislative action. The present review focuses on an area of managed care operations that has received considerable attention in state legistlatures and in Congress during the past 2 years: the financial relationship between managed care health plans and physicians. Twelve states now mandate that managed care plans disclose information about their financial relationship with physicians, and 11 states regulate the method used by managed care health plans to compensate physicians. Most laws that regulate methods of compensation prohibit health plans from providing physicians an inducement to reduce or limit the delivery of "medically necessary" services. Moreover, in 1996 the Health Care Financing Administration finalized its regulations governing the financial incentives facing physicians in plans that treat Medicaid or Medicare patients, and these regulations went into effect on January 1, 1997. These regulations also are examined in this study. (+info)