DIVISION OF MEDICAL ETHICS REPORT JULY 2005 – JUNE 2004
Our mission is to help physicians provide optimal patient care by increasing their awareness and knowledge of ethical issues and their skills in compassionate communication. We teach students, trainees, faculty and practitioners. We explore ethical questions that pertain to medical practice and public policy. We provide clinical consultation to providers and patients
This year included not only significant advances in ethically controversial technologies such as genomics, stem cell research, and electronically accessible medical records, but it again revisited ethical issues at the end of life about what treatments can be provided and whether physicians can assist with hastening death. The emerging and related epidemics of obesity and diabetes raised questions about personal responsibility and the public policy response. When a drug that prevents pregnancy after intercourse was licensed, some health
professionals Questions of spark public
expressed conscientious objection to prescribing and dispensing the drug.
justice about access to concern and debate.
and effective, but expensive drugs continued to national response was a complex prescription
purchase plan that approaches such as
may help some Medicare importing drugs from Canada
beneficiaries. States explored different and developing a comprehensive medical
reform plan that provided government incentives to responsible for health insurance. Infectious Diseases resistant bacteria and avian influenza, posed ethical
employers that evolve challenges
and individuals who were and emerge, like antibiotic- to professionals who must
weigh the reallocate
duty to treat against personal risk, and to institutions and governments who must resources and reassign priorities to actual, and even potential threats to public
health. The disaster that followed Hurricane Katrina raised questions about the professional response to a constraints on personal freedom.
and the threat of biological weapons public health emergency and possible
DIVISION ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND EVENTS: Our Division provided a forum to discuss almost all of these issues in our regular Evening Ethics Discussion program (Page 16) and through special presentations to local and national audiences such as the Salt Lake City Rotary Club and the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities. Our discussions involve individuals from many different disciplines, health care providers, and public policy makers. We’ve included guests who contribute special expertise to our dialogue. Stuart Youngner M.D., a speaker at our annual Ethics Conference, led a discussion about new and controversial use of drugs to alter our memory of traumatic events. John Mauger Ph.D., the Dean of the University of Utah School of Pharmacy, hosted our discussion on conscientious objection to professional practice with drugs and procedures that affect reproduction. David Sundwall, M.D., the Executive Director of the Utah State Health Department, hosted our discussion of the proposed Massachusetts Universal Health Coverage Law. Our Annual Conference addressed some of the controversial issues that were raised in the wake of the Terri Schiavo case and the Supreme Court decisions that
permitted the practice of physician-assisted suicide in Oregon and banned the prescription
for medical purposes. Stuart Youngner, at Case Western Reserve University, and
M.D., Chair of the Department the Susan E. Watson Professor
of of of
Bioethics, helped dispel some demonstrated the symbolic
of the confusion that surrounds the concept of brain death and importance of how we define and pronounce death.