Some Obstacles to Applying the Principle of Individual Responsibility for Illness in the Rationing of Medical Services

Romanian Journal of Bioethics 8 (2):104-113 (2010)
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Lately, more and more authors have asserted their belief that one of the criteria which, together with the medical ones, can and should be applied in the policy of selecting and/or prioritizing the patients in need for the allocation of medical resources with limited availability, is the principle of individual responsibility for illness. My intention in this study is to highlight some very serious obstacles looming against the attempt to apply this principle in the distribution of the medical services with limited availability. Although there are numerous such obstacles, I shall only discuss five of them (the most important, in my opinion). These are: 1) the impossibility to establish with certainty whether a patient got ill due to his lifestyle; 2) the lack of a feasible and reliable method of establishing an individual’s responsibility for his lifestyle; 3) a patient’s right to privacy; 4) some moral requirements and principles and, last but not least, 5) the ethics of the medical profession.
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