Pharmaceuticals Anonymous

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lancet: Principles for allocation of scarce medical interventions

Department of Ethics
The Lancet, Volume 373, Issue 9661, Pages 423 - 431, 31 January 2009
Principles for allocation of scarce medical interventions

Govind Persad BS a, Alan Wertheimer PhD a, Ezekiel J Emanuel MD a

Allocation of very scarce medical interventions such as organs and vaccines is a persistent ethical challenge. We evaluate eight simple allocation principles that can be classified into four categories: treating people equally, favouring the worst-off, maximising total benefits, and promoting and rewarding social usefulness. No single principle is sufficient to incorporate all morally relevant considerations and therefore individual principles must be combined into multiprinciple allocation systems. We evaluate three systems: the United Network for Organ Sharing points systems, quality-adjusted life-years, and disability-adjusted life-years. We recommend an alternative system—the complete lives system—which prioritises younger people who have not yet lived a complete life, and also incorporates prognosis, save the most lives, lottery, and instrumental value principles.


UPDATE: Article on end of life care from Alternet -

Obamacare: "Do they really want to croak Granny? - Yes, sometimes"

"While the imposition of this new ethos of death is justly alarming, the more present problem of medical rationing is likely to impact granny much more gravely and much sooner. The rationing of medical treatment for the elderly is marbled throughout the Obama bill in so many places that we will have to address this issue in more detail in a future installment. For example, cancer treatment, much of which is skewed toward an older demographic, will be limited ("adjusted" in Obama-speak, "rationed" in actual English), if it becomes too costly in a particular hospital. (Section 1145) Another example: services to be provided under many plans are quite limited, i.e. rationing. A more attenuated but relevant problem is that hospitals are actually prohibited from expanding, and are limited to their size as of the date of the enactment of the bill, unless a medical politburo, answerable to no one, gives the OK to expand. Thus, treatment options become further limited.

Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, a key medical ethics adviser to the president, and brother of Obama's chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel, has set forth in writing a deadly formula for allocating care. In a January 31, 2009 article in a prestigious British medical journal, The Lancet, he and two co-authors offer a theory they call, "the complete lives system," as a means to decide who gets care and who dies.

In a complex web of interlocking principles for allocating medical treatment, in an environment where rationing is assumed, Dr. Emanuel opines that teenagers should have priority over infants, because they have received more resources from society. Older people, however, are "objectively less valuable," so, yes, granny does have to die. Under this system, using utilitarian and amoral criteria like "distributive justice," young healthy people from ages 15-40 get priority, and the rest, including grandma, may not.

One can infer that this premise will undergird the implementation of the Obama healthcare regime, including the assumption of rationing of care. While the self-anointed messiah Obama brazenly proclaims throughout the land that his deadly healthcare bill will be good for society, the Hebrew prophet Isaiah rightly saw that such thinking reflects that "the dust of death" has settled over a culture.

The Obama bill reflects the ethos of amoral "utility" throughout. For example, in Section 1177, many plans will not be allowed to enroll "special needs" people. No explanation is given as to the rationale behind this cruel mandate."