Bioethics Discussion Blog: “Legitimate Medical Purpose”: What is it and who defines it?

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

“Legitimate Medical Purpose”: What is it and who defines it?

Ashcroft's directive declared that as assisting suicide was not "a legitimate medical purpose" under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 and that prescribing federally controlled drugs for that purpose was against the federal law. In today’s Supreme Court decision, Justice Scalia said in his dissent that he would uphold the administration's position. "If the term 'legitimate medical purpose' has any meaning, it surely excludes the prescription of drugs to produce death," he said.

What still remains is the question as to what physician acts represent “legitimate medical purpose” and particularly who are the ones to define it. ..Maurice.

6 Comments:

At Thursday, January 19, 2006 10:06:00 PM, Anonymous Moof said...

Dr. Bernstein ... do you believe that the government should even be involved in any of this?

 
At Friday, January 20, 2006 9:25:00 AM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

Moof, federal government--no. State government and its physicians--yes. ..Maurice.

 
At Friday, January 20, 2006 11:46:00 AM, Anonymous Bob Koepp said...

Maurice - Since you seem to approve of state governments "meddling" in medicine, I'm led to wonder...

A few years back, so-caled patient advocates "persuaded" some state legislatures to mandate the provision of BMT to all breast cancer patients who desired it. Do you see any problems here?

 
At Friday, January 20, 2006 5:03:00 PM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

But, Bob, that request and pressure was at a time that bone marrow transplantation for certain breast cancer patients was considered a rational standard of medical practice until studies showed that it was not effective and was dangerous. State medical boards, of which I am mainly familiar with my California board, have the power of licensure and the legal responsibility to define parameters of medical practice and behavior of physicians. They don't denovo set detailed therapeutic programs but they do set how medicine should be practiced. For example, the California board has set requirements, under penalty for ignoring, for printed as well as verbal information to patients prior to treatment for breast cancer, prostate exam, blood transfusion, gynecologic cancer and breast silicone implants. This degree of state government "meddling" is what all reasonable physicians expect and certainly so do the patients. ..Maurice.

 
At Saturday, January 21, 2006 3:24:00 PM, Anonymous Moof said...

"federal government--no. State government and its physicians--yes.

Dr. Bernstein ... why would the state gov be any better? I know that it's more local, but still ... what real business does any government have in medicine?

I'm not saying I disagree, I just don't fully understand what you're saying.

.

 
At Saturday, January 21, 2006 8:24:00 PM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

Moof, thanks for your question. I created a whole new post today to try to answer your question. If you have more comments on the issue you can post it there. ..Maurice.

 

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