Allocating Scarce Medical Resources: Roman Catholic Perspectives

By H. Tristram Engelhardt Jr.; Mark J. Cherry | Go to book overview

Consensus Statement
WORKING GROUP ON ROMAN
CATHOLIC APPROACHES TO
DETERMINING APPROPRIATE
CRITICAL CARE

I. PREFACE
A. The self-identification of the working group: we are a group of academics from around the world, including theologians, philosophers, physicians, and a lawyer, convened by H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr. The Roman Catholics among us represent a wide range of Catholic theological opinion. Others in the group represent other Christian and Jewish perspectives and first-hand medical experience of the issues we consider. We have met four times over three years, and have read and discussed each others' contributions to this project, thus creating an interlocking set of essays on determining appropriate critical care.B. The subject matter of this project: we are concerned with ethical and religious issues raised by critical care, and most especially with the grounds for limiting access to critical care. We are concerned to explore how and to what extent Roman Catholic moral theology and the broader Catholic worldview, including its spiritual and sacramental view of life, can shed light on these issues. Those who participated in various steps of the drafting of this statement include: Joseph Boyle, Mark J. Cherry, Mary Ann Gardell Cutter, T. Forcht Dagi, Corinna Delkeskamp-Hayes, H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr., James Heisig, Ludger Honnefelder, Edward Hughes, M. Cathleen Kaveny, George Khushf, Michael Rie, Dietrich Rössler, Josef Seifert, Paulina Taboada, and Kevin Wm. Wildes. Being named in this list does not imply full concurrence with all parts of the statement, as section V B below emphasizes.
II. EPISTEMOLOGICAL ISSUES
A. Why the focus on critical care?
1. Critical care has become an icon for current, high-tech, aggressive intervention medicine. The use of high-tech equipment and specially trained personnel seems to promise help even in the most desperate situations, but also predictably causes the painful prolongation of agony for many patients and families.
2. Critical care is very expensive in comparison to other kinds of health care; a critical care bed is three times as expensive as a normal hospital bed; 15–20

-35-

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