Bioethics Discussion Blog: Shouldn’t Rights for Medical Care Be Proclaimed Universal?

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Shouldn’t Rights for Medical Care Be Proclaimed Universal?

Read what Vancouver psychotherapist Isabella Mori wrote on her Change Therapy blog regarding a recent publication of a bill of rights, part of the World Wide Charter for ACTION on Eating Disorders sponsored by the Academy for Eating Disorders. After reading the document that defines the rights applying to those patients and caregivers of those patients with eating disorders, I responded to Isabella’s blog with the following. Would any of my visitors disagree with my analysis? ..Maurice.


Maurice Bernstein, M.D. Says:
January 1st, 2007 at 11:34 am


Though I have no doubt that much could be improved in the clinical and social management of eating disorders, I wonder if it is necessary to isolate the particular entity of eating disorders and setting really non-specific rights to those who suffer with this pathology. I didn’t see anything in the Bill that couldn’t be applied and should be applied to a whole host of medical conditions including simply the overall ethical practice of medicine by physicians, other healthcare workers and society in general. I feel the health care system should attempt to provide ethical treatment to all classes of illnesses, including those bearing major psychologic components.

The problem of selecting groups to champion rights is to ignore the entire picture of medical care. An analogy would be what is happening in the bioethics community. There is much discussion amongst ethicists about individual bedside issues such as when to terminate life support or what to advise regarding a brain dead pregnant woman but containing a live pre-mature fetus. But where is the widespread discussion and emphatic ethical education of the politicians and public about the inadequate access to medical care for all peoples in the United States but also in countries throughout the world? Rights to proper medical management should be available to all groups (that’s the ethical principle of justice) and not just to those with eating disorders. ..Maurice.

4 Comments:

At Monday, January 01, 2007 4:53:00 PM, Anonymous Moof said...

Dr. Bernstein, I honestly don't believe that anyone has a "right" to Medical Care in the sense that appears to be implied here.

Giving anyone a special right means that another person's natural right is being truncated. Always. Forcing a landlord to rent to everyone, takes away the landowner's right to do as he pleases with his own property, for example, and forcing a physician to treat someone that he knows could infect him with AIDS removes the physician's right to refuse to expose himself to what could well be a death sentence ...

I also have serious objections to the basic idea that I should have to pay for someone else's eating disorder, or for some adverse condition which was brought about by another person following an unsafe lifestyle. We seem to have forgotten the meaning of personal responsibility ... and are moving inexorably into a nanny state which arrogates to itself all rights/responsibilities that properly belong to each individual!

And the more such safety nets we lay out, the more people learn that they don't need to be careful - the nameless taxpaying hordes will redeem them after each fall.

As far as the right to proper medical management being available to all groups ... how far can that be taken before it becomes an injustice to other groups, like the caregivers?

Rights are something that an individual has that the government cannot remove ... the government can not provide you with rights.

 
At Thursday, January 04, 2007 1:33:00 PM, Anonymous Hans G. Engel, M.D. said...

Ideally I would like that every person would have food, water, housing and medical care. Yet not everyone will obtain steaks and lobsters.
It is unjust that the rich are provided with the best care and there are not enough physicians to have for all.
In my opinion a variant of the "Oregon" plan of 15 years ago in which care was distributed based on need and on available assets.

 
At Wednesday, January 10, 2007 6:26:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Rights"--nonsense. Don't you just mean, hypocrite, that you want other people to pay you (doctor) to treat people. If you feel so bad about human suffering, Maurice, go donate your services--who are you to tax me to assuage your loathsome conscience?

 
At Wednesday, January 10, 2007 7:48:00 PM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

To Anonymous of today Jan 10: I think I am doing exactly what you suggested, donating my services. I am participating as a physician in a free medical clinic in the Los Angeles area managing the illnesses of patients who have no insurance, Medicare or Medicaid support. I get no salary. The medications which are prescribed are without charge to the patient. I am not the only physician doing this in our clinic and I think there are many physicians throughout the country that provide the same services. Also remember, I am going to pay the same taxes as you are for the U.S. government's Medicaid expenses for care of the poor. ..Maurice.

 

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