Friday, January 15, 2010

Rationing Healthcare for the Elderly: Justified?

Rosemary Flanigan
January 15, 2010

The new issue of Cambridge Quarterly has an excellent short article by philosopher Leonard Fleck, himself 65 years of age, justifying some rationing of healthcare for the elderly besides what is being done now.

First of all, he stakes out his claim carefully: rationing of healthcare based on age is not intrinsically discriminatory. So he makes a careful analysis and comes to a good argument for “surgically precise age-based rationing protocols that have been fairly and democratically legitimated in a range of rationing circumstances where an age-based criterion would yield a more just outcome.”
Take Dr. Michael Debakey, the famed cardiac surgeon who had an aortic aneurysm at age 98. At first he resisted surgery but family and friends wore down his objections. He spent eight months in the hospital—at a cost of $1 million, and survived for a year.

Ought he have consented? Ought society permitted him to assent?

I know, I know, anything goes until we have those “democratically legitimated protocols” but we had better start the process or such protocols will be imposed.

Anyone disagree? And, needless to say, Congress is NOT the place to start!



Anonymous Institute on Medicine as a Profession said...

This is an interesting question both from the patients' point of view and the physcians'. Scarcity of resources I think is going to force dramatic changes in our conception of medical professionalism in the coming decades. Physicians will be asked to weigh the social costs along with the benefits of treatment to a patient.

Thursday, March 04, 2010  

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