Physician's Conscience and HECs: Friends or Foes?
Spencer, Edward M.
HEC (HealthCare Ethics Committee) Forum. 1998 Mar; 10(1): 34-42.
No matter the future of healthcare financing and management, physicians of conscience and integrity must still be an important force in the consideration of ethical issues. The traditional role for the conscientious physician -- being the only or even the major determinant of the morality of specific clinical decisions -- is, for better or worse, no longer in effect. Much of this authority now belongs to patients and HECs are the mechanism within HCOs to help maintain this authority and to observe, comment on, recommend, and occasionally "regulate" the ethics of the healthcare arena. It is natural that these mechanisms for addressing areas of moral uncertainty create a certain tension. This tension should be acknowledged by conscientious physicians and HEC members. Total agreement on all moral issues in the clinical setting is impossible and should not be a goal. However, the respectful recognition of the importance of each perspective by both HEC members and conscientious physicians, and cooperation in developing effective mechanisms to address real differences, are possible and desirable. All who are interested in the ethics of healthcare now and in the future should support these endeavors.
Clinical Ethics; Clinical Ethics Committees; Committee Membership; Communication; Conscience; Consensus; Decision Making; Dissent; Ethicists; Ethics; Ethics Committees; Friends; Institutional Ethics; Institutional Policies; Managed Care Programs; Morality; Managed Care; Patients; Physician's Role; Physicians; Public Participation; Terminology; Uncertainty;
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