Published on October 15, 2014
1. An Introduction to Contemporary Medical Ethics Leadership Seminars Hobart and William Smith Colleges October 23, 2009 Richard L. Wasserman, M.D., Ph.D. Clinical Professor of Pediatrics University of Texas Southwestern Medical School Adapted from Dr. R. L. Fine, Director, Office of Clinical Ethics Baylor Health Care System, Dallas, Texas
2. Learning Objectives Appreciate the ethos of contemporary clinical ethics Understand the function and responsibilities of ethics committees Appreciate the clinical context of the core principles of medical ethics Understand the relationship of ethics, science, law, politics, and professionalism Examine different theories of ethics
3. Case Study JJ is a 49-year-old man with Down's syndrome admitted with an anoxic brain injury after choking while eating. Initially mechanically ventilated, but now breathes on his own through a tracheostomy tube. Unresponsive with reflex posturing and seizures. Social work was unable to locate any relative, no visitors in over 10 years. Ethics Committee was consulted concerning a possible DNR order. Should this patient have a DNR order? Why or why not? What other ethical issues are raised in this case? Respect for life? Respect for person? Cost?
4. Medical Ethics Medical ethics is the discipline that deals with what we believe to be good or bad, right or wrong about the ends of Medicine and the means used to achieve those ends. It is not about what we can do in a given set of circumstances. It is about what we should do in those circumstances.
5. Medical Ethics and Science Question: Is Einstein’s monumental insight into the relationship of energy and mass, e=mc2, good or bad?
6. Medical Ethics and Science Science is ethically neutral; neither good nor bad: e=mc2 is neither good or bad The laws of gas exchange are neither good or bad The science of inserting a gene into a cell is neither good nor bad
7. Medical Ethics and Technology Technology (applied science) takes on ethical value only when it is applied towards some particular end or goal. For example: bombs vs. power generation short term mechanical ventilation vs. long term life on a ventilator eliminating Cystic Fibrosis through genetic engineering vs. vanity genetic engineering
8. Medical Ethics, Law, and Politics Law reflects the politically agreed upon standard of ethical acceptability, not necessarily the highest standard nor necessarily the correct “ethical” standard. Slavery was legal, but was it moral? Active euthanasia is illegal, but is it always immoral? Ethics belongs to the body polis. Plato
9. Medical Ethics and Professionalism Essential attributes of the professional as opposed to the technician include: A publicly professed code of behavior and purpose Using one’s knowledge and skill first for the good of others What do you profess? What should an institution profess?
10. Ethical Content vs. Conflict Every clinical encounter has ethical content. This content is rarely recognized. There are no competing values, goods, or harms. Some clinical encounters exhibit ethical conflict in which there are competing values. This is usually, though not always recognized. These conflicts demand answers, they will not go away, and they demand answers that we can feel good about!
11. How do I know I am right? Appeals to authority: law, codes, traditions state/federal law, Hippocratic oath, Ten Commandments/other religious teachings Consensus Hominum: general consensus works better in less diverse societies and often driven by appeal to authority Intuition: it just feels right there appears to be a biological substrate for this Socratic Q & A: careful questioning application of various theories, principles, or virtues
12. Classical Theories of Ethical Reasoning Deontological - duty based ethic. An action is right or wrong regardless of the consequences. Think Immanuel Kant and the categorical imperative. Consequentialist - an outcome based ethic. An action is right or wrong based upon the end result. Think J. S. Mill and Utilitarianism.
13. Newer Theories of Ethical Reasoning Casuistry - Case by case approach where the active case is compared against an earlier similar case in which moral consensus was achieved. Think case law and precedence. Narrative - The story and the relationships embedded in it are the most important aspect of ethical analysis. Feeling perhaps more than thinking. Recent functional MRI studies confirm that when we think about ethical problems, sometimes we think logically, but other times we call on emotion.
14. How do I know if I am right? Ich vays nit: I don’t know. Admitting a lack of knowledge, admitting we don’t know, is the beginning of true wisdom.
15. How do I know if I am wrong? Would I feel bad, embarrassed, or unable to justify myself if my decisions or actions were published on the front page of the local newspaper?
16. How do we most commonly “Do Medical Ethics”? Principle Based Approach Take a set of Prima Facie Principles and apply them as an action template to each circumstance, asking: “What does this principle demand of me in this circumstance?” Virtue Based Approach Take a set of Cardinal Virtues and and apply them as a behavior template to each circumstance, asking: “What virtues should I display in this case?” These Principles and Virtues may not only guide action and behavior in a particular case, but they may guide institutional policy and procedure for a set of circumstances.
17. Prima Facie Principles These “first face” principles are generally accepted as ethically good. These principles may of course come into conflict with each other, and when they do it is said that we have and ethical dilemma. A prima facie principle should only be abandoned with adequate justification, that is when another principle or group of principles outweighs it in our moral scale.
18. Clinical Ethics Consultation Calls upon knowledge and skills in medicine, human behavior, health law, spirituality, and ethics Is primarily facilitative May operate on a “medical consultation” model Is usually multidisciplinary Has legal standing in many states Should be “open access” – any member of the treatment team (including administration
19. Case Studies – surrogacy/respect for person JJ is a 49-year-old man with Down's syndrome admitted with an anoxic brain injury after choking while eating. Initially mechanically ventilated, but now breaths on his own through a tracheostomy tube. Unresponsive with reflex posturing and seizures. Social work was unable to locate any relative, no visitors in over 10 years. Ethics Committee was consulted concerning a possible DNR order. Should this patient have a DNR order? Why or why not? What other ethical issues are raised in this case? Respect for life? Respect for person? Cost?
20. Case Studies – surrogacy/respect for person MM is a 55 yr old female – stroke about after a cardiac stenting procedure Severe neurological impairment; responsive only responsive to pain Not ventilator dependent; tracheostomy tube to assist in airway maintenance and comfort. Treatment issues: DNR status, feeding tube placement, intensity of care Two persons claimed surrogacy status, the patient’s female domestic partner (with whom she had a legal domestic partner agreement since 1988) and the patient’s daughter. The patient was in fact covered under her partner's insurance plan. The daughter expressed her desire to stop treatment but the partner wanted all treatment continued. What ethical questions are raised in this case?
21. Prima Facie Principles, Derivative Values and Behaviors Respect for persons Do not treat others in a way that you would not wish to be treated as a moral being. i.e., respect their moral agency as you would wish your moral agency to be respected. “Love thy neighbor as thyself” - Biblical tradition Do unto others as you would have them do unto you? Do not do to another that which is hateful to you. Attention to customs, beliefs, & vulnerabilities of the patient Cultivate the virtue of giving time, attention, and common courtesy to the sick in particular, for illness creates vulnerability
22. Surrogate Decision Makers What? Someone to make decisions for a patient. When? If the patient cannot communicate their own wishes. Who? Designee or legally established guardian. How? Follow the patient’s stated wishes Follow the patient’s presumed wishes Substituted judgment
23. Case Studies – Non- Malfeasance JD is a 20 yo student with advancing cancer Treated aggressively for five years Yesterday suffered respiratory arrest Intubated on mechanical ventillation Kidney failure will need dialysis Responsive only to pain following the arrest Treatment options Start dialysis? “Pull the plug?”
24. Prima Facie Principles, Derivative Values and Behaviors Beneficence and Non-maleficence Promote good and avoid harm “I will go to the house of the sick for the benefit of the sick” and “First do no harm” - Hippocratic tradition It is good to relieve suffering, cure a patient, save a life Paternalism/Maternalism – Parentalism Non-maleficence It is good not to harm, cause suffering or prolong dying Paternalism/Maternalism - Parentalism
25. Case studies - autonomy Patient ML is a 43 year old WF s/p MVA C-2 cord injury, ventilator dependence, no other major medical problems. With ongoing ventilator treatment, she can reasonably expect to live for 10 or more years, but she can never recover. About 8 weeks after injury, while in your rehab hospital, she requests that she be “put to sleep” and that the ventilator be withdrawn. How do you respond? If you are the physician. If you are the bedside nurse. If you are the CEO. If you are a member of the Board of Trustees?
26. Prima Facie Principles, Derivative Values and Behaviors Autonomy Self governance “Inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” - Secular legal tradition Informed Consent, Patient’s Rights, Privacy, Confidentiality Anti-paternalism
27. Case studies - distributive SW is a 69 yo man admitted with a rare, life threatening clotting disorder. Treatment requires the use of an expensive agent that costs $1,000 per vial and typical treatment requires about 100 vials. 2 weeks of treatment, hospital charges have exceeded 2 million dollars. (His lifetime maximum insurance benefit.) With treatment he may continue to live and may get well, without it he will definitely die. Your hospital fully supports. an indigent clinic. $2,000,000 pays for 10,000 clinic visits. Will you continue to provide the treatment if you are: 1. The bedside physician, 2. The chief of pharmacy, 3. The CEO?
28. Case Studies – distributive The H1N1 pandemic has swept the Northeast 15% of Ontario County is currently infected 500 “possible” or confirmed cases at HWS Your roommate got sick yesterday Fever 102°F, diarrhea, cough Today temp 104°F, short of breath Call 911
29. Case Studies – distributive Geneva General Hospital is full Elective admissions have been cancelled Roommate has respiratory arrest - intubated Intensive care is full and every ventilator is in use Five “chronic patients” Five acute adult patients – not flu Ten flu patients age 24 – 49 Five flu patients age 3 – 12
30. Prima Facie Principles: Definition and Derivation Justice Distributive versus Retributive. We should be most concerned in health care about a just or fair distribution of resources and avoid the inclination that some have towards blaming and therefore punishing the patient, “Justice, justice you shall pursue” – Deuteronomy and Secular/Legal Fairness, equity Equanimity (even handedness or balance)
31. Case Studies - Fidelity XH is a 59 yo 1st generation Asian-American with a new diagnosis of advanced pancreatic cancer When told the grim prognosis in the surgery waiting room, the patient’s wife and adult children request that he not be told the diagnosis. The family explains that, if told, he will loose hope and that will hasten his death What should the physician do?
32. Prima Facie Principles: Definition and Derivation Fidelity Faithfulness, both in telling the truth and being true. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” - Genesis, but also Hippocratic as well as Secular/Legal if one sees Fidelity as the source of fiduciary duties Faithfulness to the patient first - being true or being there for the patient when they are most vulnerable Telling the truth Demonstrating compassion and empathy
33. A Partial List of Useful Virtues in Medicine Competency (technical) Competency (behavioral, ethical, spiritual) Compassion Empathy Courage Honesty Attentiveness Patience Courtesy Instructive (to be a good doctor is to be a good teacher) Gentleness Equanimity
34. Miscellaneous Concepts in Ethics Rights Negative Rights – liberty, the right to be left alone. No obligation accompanies a negative right other than respect for the liberty of others. Positive Rights - a right to something. Positive rights impose an obligation on someone else. Natural rights - a right that is found in Nature or Divinely given Legal rights - a right specifically found in either statutory or case law
35. Miscellaneous Concepts in Ethics The Slippery Slope (An argument used against certain actions) If you make an exception to a rule, even if the exception is justified, it will lead to other exceptions that are harmful and not justified. So, how well do you ski? The Principle of Double Effect (An argument used in favor of certain actions) If an action has both a good and bad effect, it is permissible to perform the act if: you intend only the good effect your action was the only way to achieve the good effect the good effect morally outweighs the bad effect
36. Miscellaneous Concepts in Ethics The Clinical Encounter and Crossed Aspect Decision Making or “there’s more to clinical ethics than ethics!” The clinical encounter between patient and health care provider has multiple elements or aspects including medical science, human behavior, spirituality, health law, and ethics. At any given time, one or two of these aspects may take relative priority over the others. There are no medical science answers to ethical problems, ethical answers to legal problems, legal answers to problems of the spirit and so on. The discipline of clinical ethics deals with all of these areas and tries to keep all parties focused on defining the problem at hand, keeping the aspects clear, and achieving the best outcome possible. Clinical ethics is PRAGMATIC!
Calcification Inhibitors in CKD and Dialysis Patients
1. Dev World Bioeth. 2008 Dec;8(3):192-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-8847.2006.00180.x. Contemporary medical ethics: an overview from Iran. Larijani B(1), Zahedi F.
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