One of the most difficult problems facing physicians is how to approach proxy decisions made on behalf of congenitally incompetent patients. The author considers two recent court cases that attempt to provide guidelines: Re Stephen Dawson, which opts for a substituted-judgement approach, and Eve v. Mrs E.) which injoins best-interests considerations. The author explores the impact of Eve v. Mrs. E. as superseding Re Stephen Dawson, considers its ethical implications and attempts to clarify the best-interests criterion by sketching some guidelines for its interpretation. In so doing, he tries to reconcile the two decisions by laying bare their common underlying ethical rationale. The author concludes by pointing out some ethically questionable implications of Eve v. Mrs. E. in the area of allocation of health care resources.
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Do patients and health care workers have the legal right to know each other's HIV status? Professor Flanagan argues that they do not. Given that with appropriate precautions the risk of transmitting HIV in the health care setting is extremely small and that the discriminatory consequences of HIV disclosure can be extremely high, it is suggested that the right of a patient or a health care worker not to disclose their HIV status must outweigh the other's "right to know."
The rapid advances in biomedical sciences have induced special moral and ethical attitudes, which ought to be taken into account. One of the most essential issues is the principles for participation in research of subjects with reduced decision-making capacity. We conducted a questionnaire survey among members of the research ethics committees in Sweden to find out their attitudes to a range of ethical issues related to research on subjects with Alzheimer's disease. One hundred thirty-six of those approached responded (66%), and 117 of the responses (56%) were considered substantially complete. There were 16 questions with fixed reply alternatives. Some central questions concerned the informed consent process. With a few exceptions, there were no significant differences in attitudes between the experts and laypersons, between persons of different ages, and between men and women. However, women and laypersons were in general keener to preserve the patient's integrity and the experts were more willing than the laypersons to allow participation of subjects with dementia in placebo-controlled trials.
The 1990s witnessed Supreme Court decisions in both Canada and the United States on issues of competence that went against longstanding case law, psychological research, and common sense. These decisions held that there is to be one standard for all types of criminal competencies. The present research attempts to investigate whether this is an appropriate assumption and thus tests whether there are one or more constructs that underlie different types of competence. Two divergent types of competence were examined, competence to stand trial (both Canadian and American conceptualizations) and competence to consent to treatment, to determine if these different types of competence share a common underlying construct. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to test this question and results indicate that there is a common construct that underlies different types of competence.
In living kidney donation, transplant professionals consider the rights of a living kidney donor and recipient to keep their personal health information confidential and the need to disclose this information to the other for informed consent. In incompatible kidney exchange, personal health information from multiple living donors and recipients may affect decision making and outcomes.
We conducted a survey to understand and compare the preferences of potential donors (n = 43), potential recipients (n = 73), and health professionals (n = 41) toward sharing personal health information (in total 157 individuals).
When considering traditional live-donor transplantation, donors and recipients generally agreed that a recipient's health information should be shared with the donor (86 and 80%, respectively) and that a donor's information should be shared with the recipient (97 and 89%, respectively). When considering incompatible kidney exchange, donors and recipients generally agreed that a recipient's information should be shared with all donors and recipients involved in the transplant (85 and 85%, respectively) and that a donor's information should also be shared with all involved (95 and 90%, respectively). These results were contrary to attitudes expressed by transplant professionals, who frequently disagreed about whether such information should be shared.
Future policies and practice could facilitate greater sharing of personal health information in living kidney donation. This requires a consideration of which information is relevant, how to put it in context, and a plan to obtain consent from all concerned.
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Bathing incompetent patients can be a difficult experience, both for the patient and the nurse. When incompetent patients express a wish not to be bathed, or actively resist being bathed, it is even more stressful.