Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Ethics (?) of Legislating Medical Practice

It’s the legislative season throughout the US at both the state and federal levels. Which prompts a question that might at first seem a bit naïve. But before we ask the question, a bit of background.

All of us have likely observed at one time or another a physician, a group of physicians or a corporation appeared to perhaps be attempting to use a legislative process to change the practice of medicine.

For example: XYZ Company devises a new tool to diagnose a disease. The legislature is lobbied to change the law so that this particular test becomes akin to a mandatory screening. One consideration is the financial gain to be garnered by the XYZ Company if the legislative change is made. More importantly, the legislature is not the body to determine if proper human subject testing has been completed, among other considerations.

So here’s the question: what is the proper (ethical) relationship between legislative and regulatory bodies when it comes to the practice of medicine?



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