Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Consensus statement on conscientious objection in healthcare



Just a very brief pointer to this post at the Oxford Practical Ethics blog, showcasing a consensus statement on how states and health systems should handle the phenomenon of healthcare staff conscientiously objecting to practices included in medical practice that comes out of the symposium on this very topic that I related in a recent post.



  1. There was an anounymous comment to this post that I accedentally deleted when attempting to approve it for publishing. The Blogger tool alas does not have a function for repairing such mistakes.

    Anyway: the comment was a question, namely, if Swedish doctors had the possibility to resist participating in the compulsory sterilization program run in my country 1935-75. The answer is that the situation was the same then as it is today, which I describe closely in an article that's just been published by the Journal of Medical Ethics: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/304062329_Conscientious_refusal_in_healthcare_The_Swedish_solution

    That is, there was, as it is now, ample opportunities for doctors to follow their conscience. However then, as now, there existed no privileged exemption from applicable law for doctors. If it had, would it have made a difference to the compulsory strerilization practice? Most likely not, as this practice enjoyed strong support from the medical profession.

  2. One of the weird implications of the statement is that point 2 would require doctors to start and continue CPR and other intensive life-sustaining treatments on patients whenever their proxies ask, even if the physician judges it to be unethical. And then point 6 would imply that every hospital must have an intensivist on hand that is willing to go to extreme lengths to sustain life at the request of patients and their substitute decision makers, even if all of their colleagues think they are wasting resources better spent on other patients. Despite point 7, this statement could end up costing healthcare systems a lot more than it saves.