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Journal of Clinical Ethics

Matthew W McCarthy, Diego Real de Asua, Joseph J Fins
Translating ethical theories into clinical practice presents a perennial challenge to educators. While many suggestions have been put forth to bridge the theory-practice gap, none have sufficiently remedied the problem. We believe the ascendance of hospital medicine, as a dominant new force in medical education and patient care, presents a unique opportunity that could redefine the way clinical ethics is taught. The field of hospital medicine in the United States is comprised of more than 50,000 hospitalists-specialists in inpatient medicine-representing the fastest growing subspecialty in the history of medicine, and its members have emerged as a dominant new force around which medical education and patient care pivot...
2017: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Donna Massutta
Interest in understanding the experience of moral distress has steadily gained traction in the 30 years since Jameton first described the phenomenon. This curiosity should be of no surprise, since we now have data documenting the incidence across most caregiver roles and healthcare settings, both in the United States and internationally. The data have also amplified healthcare providers' voices who report that the quality of the ethical environment is pivotal to preventing and containing the adverse effects caused by moral distress...
2017: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Rebecca Volpe
Ongoing evaluation of a clinical ethics consultation service (ECS) allows for continuous quality improvement, a process-based, data-driven approach for improving the quality of a service. Evaluations by stakeholders involved in a consultation can provide real-time feedback about what is working well and what might need to be improved. Although numerous authors have previously presented data from research studies on the effectiveness of clinical ethics consultation, few ECSs routinely send evaluations as an ongoing component of their everyday clinical activities...
2017: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Lisa Fuller, Margot M Eves
Prisoners are legally categorized as a vulnerable group for the purposes of medical research, but their vulnerability is not limited to the research context. Prisoner-patients may experience lower standards of care, fewer options for treatment, violations of privacy, and the use of inappropriate surrogates as a result of their status. This case study highlights some of the ways in which a prisoner-patient's vulnerable status impacted the care he received. The article argues the following: (1) Prisoner-patients are entitled to the same quality of care as all other patients, and healthcare providers should be vigilant to ensure that the stigma of incarceration does not influence care decisions...
2017: Journal of Clinical Ethics
James L Bendict
One response to the chronic shortage of organs for transplant in the United States has been the passage of laws establishing first-person authorization for donation of organs, providing legal grounds for the retrieval of organs and tissues from registered donors, even over the objections of their next of kin. The ethical justification for first-person authorization is that it is a matter of respecting the donor's wishes. The objection of some next of kin may be that the donor would not have wished for his or her loved ones to have their preferences overridden, had they considered that possibility...
2017: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Alida Naudé, Juan Bornman
There are currently no instruments available to measure ethical sensitivity in the therapeutic sciences. This study therefore aimed to develop and implement a measure of ethical sensitivity that would be applicable to four therapeutic professions, namely audiology, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and speech-language pathology. The study followed a two-phase, sequential exploratory mixed-methods design. Phase One, the qualitative development phase, employed six stages and focused on developing an instrument based on a systematic review: an analysis of professional ethical codes, focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, a review of public complaints websites, and an expert panel review...
2017: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Karen L Smith, Patrice Fedel, Jay Heitman
A power of attorney for healthcare (POAHC) form gives designated individuals legal status to make healthcare decisions when patients are unable to convey their decisions to medical staff. Completion of a POAHC form is crucial in the provision of comprehensive healthcare, since it helps to ensure that patients' interests, values, and preferences are represented in decisions about their medical treatment. Because increasing numbers of people suffer from debilitating illness and cognitive deficits, healthcare systems may be called upon to navigate the complexities of patients' care without clear directives from the patients themselves...
2017: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Anders Herlitz
This article provides a new argument and a new value-theoretical ground for person-centered care and shared decision making that ascribes to it the role of enabling rational choice in situations involving clinical choice. Rather than referring to good health outcomes and/or ethical grounds such as patient autonomy, it argues that a plausible justification and ground for person-centered care and shared decision making is preservation of rationality in the face of comparative non-determinacy in clinical settings...
2017: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Edmund G Howe
Clinicians and ethicists routinely encounter complex ethical dilemmas that seem intractable, which have been described as ethical Gordian knots. How can they best assist patients and surrogate decision makers who are entangled in struggles around the capacity to make life-or-death treatment decisions? In this article I describe unconventional and unorthodox approaches to help slice through these dilemmas.
2017: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Dena S Davis
All of the 50 states of the United States have laws governing childhood vaccinations; 48 allow for religious exemptions, while 19 also offer exemptions based on some sort of personal philosophy. Recent disease outbreaks have caused these states to reconsider philosophical exemptions. However, we cannot, consistent with the U.S. Constitution, give preference to religion by creating religious exemptions only. The Constitution requires states to put religious and nonreligious claims on equal footing. Given the ubiquity of nonreligious objections to vaccination, I conclude that the best response is to remove all exemptions, as two states have already done...
2017: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Roger Strair
In this article I argue that the biological processes that make us human have error rates that distribute illness on a no-fault basis. I propose this as an ethical foundation for universal healthcare.
2017: Journal of Clinical Ethics
David S Wendler
Discussion of the ethics of clinical trials in lower income countries has been dominated by concern over double standards. Most prominently, clinical trials of interventions that are less effective than the worldwide best treatment methods typically are not permitted in higher income countries. Commentators conclude that permitting such trials in lower income countries involves an ethical double standard. Despite significant attention to this concern, and its influence over prominent guidelines for research in lower income countries, there has been little analysis of what constitutes an ethical double standard in clinical research...
2017: Journal of Clinical Ethics
James L Benedict
Crosscultural encounters are common in the delivery of healthcare, and cultural differences may contribute to misunderstandings and ethical conflict. Encounters between members of the Amish ethno-religious group and modern, science-based healthcare providers hold a high potential for misunderstanding and conflict because the Amish stridently maintain a countercultural outlook and they approach such encounters with suspicion and anxiety. This commentary on the case presented by Amy E. Caruso Brown, MD,1 involving a grandfather's resistance to treating a child with leukemia commends this physician for successfully managing the case and deriving important insights from reflection upon it...
2017: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Amy E Caruso Brown
Refusing treatment for potentially curable childhood cancers engenders much discussion and debate. I present a case in which the competent parents of a young Amish child with acute myeloid leukemia deferred authority for decision making to the child's maternal grandfather, who was vocal in his opposition to treatment. I analyze three related concerns that distinguish this case from other accounts of refused treatment. First, I place deference to grandparents as decision makers in the context of surrogate decision making more generally...
2017: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Donna D McKlindon, Pamela Nathanson, Chris Feudtner
Some of the most difficult clinical ethics consultations involve patients who have both medical and mental health needs, as these cases can result in considerable moral distress on the part of the bedside staff. In this article we examine the issues that such consults raise through the illustrative example of a particular case: several years ago our ethics consultation service received a request from a critical care attending physician who was considering a rarely performed psychosurgical intervention to address intractable and life-threatening agitation and aggression in an adolescent patient for whom standard treatments had proven unsuccessful...
2017: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Armand H Matheny Antommaria
Many academic medical centers are seeking to attract patients from outside their historical catchment areas for economic and programmatic reasons, and patients are traveling for treatment that is unavailable, of poorer quality, or more expensive at home. Treatment of these patients raises a number of ethical issues including whether they may be given priority in scheduling outpatient follow-up appointments in order to reduce the period of time they are away from home. Granting them priority is potentially unjust because medical treatment is generally allocated based on medical need and resource utilization, and then on a first-come, first-served basis...
2017: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Danish Zaidi
In February 2016, the Cleveland Clinic initiated the first attempt at cadaveric uterine transplantation (UTx) in the United States. The transplantation was ultimately unsuccessful, but it opened doors for further research on both live and cadaveric UTx. While initial strides toward successful transplantation have been made, questions persist on the ethics of UTx: whether the uterus is a vital organ, whether we should prioritize live or cadaveric options, and how the procedure should be covered by health insurance...
2017: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Deb Bennett-Woods, Jean Abbott, Jacqueline J Glover
Medical decision making on behalf of unrepresented patients is one of the most challenging ethical issues faced in clinical practice. The legal environment surrounding these patients is equally complex. This article describes the efforts of a small coalition of interested healthcare professionals to address the issue in Colorado. A brief history of the effort is presented, along with discussion of the legal, ethical, practical, and political dimensions that arose in Colorado's effort to address decision making for unrepresented patients through an extension of the existing Colorado Medical Treatment Decision Act (CRS 15-18)...
2017: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Jamie Lindemann Nelson
Lisa Freitag and Joan Liaschenko's thoughtful and important article goes directly to the under-examined heart of Ashley's case, namely to what sustains her in a habitable and intelligible identity. Though quite sympathetic with their conclusion and line of argument, I try to trouble their proceedings a bit, largely by wondering how having a specific such identity, out of several that may be in-principle available, matters to someone with Ashley's cognitive scope. I do this not simply to be contrary, but because their article also seems to me to raise issues in the ethics of bioethics-in particular, what I call the dilemma of ethical endeavor: How ought one publicly pursue deeply important and complex issues, the very raising of which may offend interlocutors who indeed have grounds for resentment...
2017: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Lisa Freitag, Joan Liaschenko
The controversy over the so-called Ashley Treatment (AT), a series of medical procedures that inhibited both growth and sexual development in the body of a profoundly intellectually impaired girl, usually centers either on Ashley's rights, including a right to an intact, unaltered body, or on Ashley's parents' rights to make decisions for her. The claim made by her parents, that the procedure would improve their ability to care for her, is often dismissed as inappropriate or, at best, irrelevant. We argue, however, that caregiving is a central issue in the controversy, as Ashley's need for caregiving is a defining characteristic of her life...
2017: Journal of Clinical Ethics
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