How Should Physicians Respond When the Best Treatment for an Individual Patient Conflicts with Practice Guidelines about the Use of a Limited Resource?
AMA Journal of Ethics, June 2017
The case presents a physician's ethical conflict, due to limited resources, between his obligations to meet the needs of a community and those of his patient. Elements of the decision-making process (and who should make the decision) are discussed, including the limitations of what ethical reasoning can offer and risks of arbitrary outcomes. Additionally, potential benefits to physicians and their patients of discussing these conflicts, including reducing the physician's moral distress, are noted. I argue that physicians' abilities to make "right" decisions in such situations are limited, and I suggest ways in which physicians can try to preserve their relationships with patients.
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