Abortion, particularly later-term abortion, and neonaticide, selective non-treatment of newborns, are feasible management strategies for fetuses or newborns diagnosed with severe abnormalities. However, policy varies considerably among developed nations. This article examines abortion and neonatal policy in four nations: Israel, the US, the UK and Denmark. In Israel, late-term abortion is permitted while non-treatment of newborns is prohibited. In the US, on the other hand, later-term abortion is severely restricted, while treatment to newborns may be withdrawn. Policy in the UK and Denmark bridges some of these gaps with liberal abortion and neonatal policy. Disparate policy within and between nations creates practical and ethical difficulties. Practice diverges from policy as many practitioners find it difficult to adhere to official policy. Ethically, it is difficult to entirely justify perinatal policy in these nations. In each nation, there are elements of ethically sound policy, while other aspects cannot be defended. Ethical policy hinges on two underlying normative issues: the question of fetal/newborn status and the morality of killing and letting die. While each issue has been the subject of extensive debate, there are firm ethical norms that should serve as the basis for coherent and consistent perinatal policy. These include 1) a grant of full moral and legal status to the newborn but only partial moral and legal status to the late-term fetus 2) a general prohibition against feticide unless to save the life of the mother or prevent the birth of a fetus facing certain death or severe pain or suffering and 3) a general endorsement of neonaticide subject to a parent's assessment of the newborn's interest broadly defined to consider physical harm as well as social, psychological and or financial harm to related third parties. Policies in each of the nations surveyed diverging from these norms should be the subject of public discourse and, where possible, legislative reform.
A trend toward the reduction in the length of hospital stays has been widely observed. This increasing shift is particularly evident in perinatal care. A stay of less than 48 hours after delivery has been shown to have no negative effects on the health of either the mother or the baby as long as they receive an adequate follow-up. This implies a close integration between hospital and community health services. The present article addresses the following questions: To what extent are postnatal services accessible to mothers and neonates? Are postnatal services in the community in continuity with those of the hospital? Are the services provided by the appropriate source of care? The authors conducted a telephone survey among 1158 mothers in a large urban area in the province of Quebec, Canada. The results were compared to clinical guidelines widely recognised by professionals. The results show serious discrepancies with these guidelines. The authors found a low accessibility to services: less than half of the mothers received a home visit by a nurse. In terms of continuity of care, less than 10% of the mothers received a follow-up telephone call within the recommended time frame and only 18% benefited from a home visit within the recommended period. Finally, despite guidelines to the contrary, hospitals continue to intervene after discharge. This results in a duplication of services for 44.7% of the new-borns. On the other hand, 40.7% are not seen in the recommended period after hospital discharge at all. These results raise concerns about the integration of services between agencies. Following earlier work, the present authors have grouped explanatory factors under four dimensions: the strategic dimension, particularly leadership; the structural dimension, including the size of the network; the technological dimension, with respect to information transmission system; and the cultural dimension, which concerns the collaboration process and the development of relationships based on trust.
To describe the substantive and procedural criteria used for placing patients on the waiting list for liver transplantation and for allocating available livers to patients on the waiting list; to identify principal decision-makers and the main factors limiting liver transplantation in Canada; and to examine how closely cadaveric liver allocation resembles theoretic models of source allocation.
Medical directors of all seven Canadian adult liver transplantation centres, or their designates. Six of the questionnaires were completed.
Relative importance of substantive and procedural criteria used to place patients in the waiting list for liver transplantation and to allocate available livers. Identification of principal decision-makers and main limiting factors to adult liver transplantation.
Alcoholism, drug addiction, HIV positivity, primary liver cancer, noncompliance and hepatitis B were the most important criteria that had a negative influence on decisions to place patients on the waiting list for liver transplantation. Severity of disease and urgency were the most important criteria used for selecting patients on the waiting list for transplantation. Criteria that were inconsistent across the centres included social support (for deciding who is placed on the waiting list) and length of time on the waiting list (for deciding who is selected from the list). Although a variety of people were reported as being involved in these decisions, virtually all were reported to be health to be health care professionals. Thirty-seven patients died while waiting for liver transplantation in 1991; the scarcity of cadaveric livers was the main limiting factor.
Criteria for resource allocation decisions regarding liver transplantation are generally consistent among the centres across Canada, although some important inconsistencies remain. Because patients die while on the waiting list and because the primary limiting factor is organ supply, increased organ acquisition efforts are needed.
In a pandemic situation, resources in intensive care units may be stretched to the breaking point, and critical care triage may become necessary. In such a situation, I argue that a patient's combined vulnerability to illness and social disadvantage should be a justification for giving that patient some priority for critical care. In this article I present an example of a critical care triage protocol that recognizes the moral relevance of vulnerability to illness and social disadvantage, from the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to describe the kinds of ethical dilemmas surgeons face during practice. METHODS: Five male and five female surgeons at a University hospital in Norway were interviewed as part of a comprehensive investigation into the narratives of physicians and nurses about ethically difficult situations in surgical units. The transcribed interview texts were subjected to a phenomenological-hermeneutic interpretation. RESULTS: No gender differences were found in the kinds of ethical dilemmas identified among male and female surgeons. The main finding was that surgeons experienced ethical dilemmas in deciding the right treatment in different situations. The dilemmas included starting or withholding treatment, continuing or withdrawing treatment, overtreatment, respecting the patients and meeting patients' expectations. The main focus in the narratives was on ethical dilemmas concerning the patients' well-being, treatment and care. The surgeons narrated about whether they should act according to their own convictions or according to the opinions of principal colleagues or colleagues from other departments. Handling incompetent colleagues was also seen as an ethical dilemma. Prioritization of limited resources and following social laws and regulations represented ethical dilemmas when they contradicted what the surgeons considered was in the patients' best interests. CONCLUSION: The surgeons seemed confident in their professional role although the many ethical dilemmas they experienced in trying to meet the expectations of patients, colleagues and society also made them professionally and personally vulnerable.
PURPOSE: To get an informative and detailed picture of the resource utilization in a radiology department in order to support its pricing and management. MATERIAL AND METHODS: A system based mainly on the theoretical foundations of activity-based costing (ABC) was designed, tested and compared with conventional costing. The study was performed at the Pediatric Unit of the Department of Radiology, Oulu University Hospital. The material consisted of all the 7,452 radiological procedures done in the unit during the first half of 1994, when both methods of costing where in use. Detailed cost data were obtained from the hospital financial and personnel systems and then related to activity data captured in the radiology information system. RESULTS: The allocation of overhead costs was greatly reduced by the introduction of ABC compared to conventional costing. The overhead cost as a percentage of total costs dropped to one-fourth of total costs, from 57% to 16%. The change of unit costs of radiological procedures varied from -42% to +82%. CONCLUSION: Costing is much more detailed and precise, and the percentage of unspecified allocated overhead costs diminishes drastically when ABC is used. The new information enhances effective departmental management, as the whole process of radiological procedures is identifiable by single activities, amenable to corrective actions and process improvement.
Age-related use of fibrinolytic therapy in acute myocardial infarction was studied for patients admitted to the intensive care unit in four hospitals comprising 10% of the national hospital bed capacity in Norway. Altogether, 446 patients were included. All had validated acute myocardial infarction or acute ischaemic coronary heart disease treated with fibrinolytic medication. The fibrinolytic treatment rate decreased linearly from 74% among patients younger than 50 years to 15% among those older than 80 (p