Socialized Medicine-One Size Fits None

By Selick, Karen | Freeman, August 1999 | Go to article overview

Socialized Medicine-One Size Fits None


Selick, Karen, Freeman


ONTARIO, CANADA-Andrew Sawatzky, an elderly Manitoba man whose wife went to court to fight the "Do Not Resuscitate" order placed on his hospital chart, is probably part of a fairly small minority. His wife says he wants resuscitation if he has another stroke, even though the attempt might fail or leave him permanently unconscious.

I discuss these life-and-death issues frequently with clients when preparing powers of attorney. The vast majority recoil from the thought of becoming brain-dead husks on permanent life support. Most say that if their doctors pronounce further treatment futile, they would rather accept the verdict and "die with dignity."

But what's right or wrong in cases like this can't be determined by public opinion poll. It doesn't matter what 99 people would choose, if the 100th person wants something different. The question remains: what should be done about Mr. Sawatzky?

To me, the ethical principles that should be applied are simple. Everyone should be free to conduct his life however he pleases, so long as he leaves others free to do the same. It's wrong to use force-including the force behind our court system-to bend someone to your will, except to enforce a contract the other person previously agreed to.

The Sawatzkys, if they want heroic and possibly futile measures taken, have the right to try and procure such services. But they don't have a right to force any particular doctor, using the court as their big stick, to render those services. If their current doctors and hospital genuinely believe it's unethical to provide them, all the Sawatzkys can do is look for someone who believes otherwise.

The doctors and the hospital, on the other hand, have no right to impose their will by force on Mr. Sawatzky. For example, they can't refuse to let him leave if he finds an alternative treatment center that is willing to comply with his wishes.

The Money Issue

But there's a good chance he won't be able to find one. Now the secret, unmentionable side of the problem must finally be broached: money.

The hospital couched its objections to further treatment in humanitarian terms, but they rang hollow to me. So what if resuscitation attempts might fail? Why not just try and see? And how can it be "cruel" to treat someone when he understands the risks and still wants the treatment? People make decisions to undergo risky medical procedures every day, and hospitals don't overrule them because the operation might fail or the outcome might be tragic.

If life-support machines grew on trees, and an infinite amount of money earmarked for paying doctors' salaries and hospital expenses fell like manna from heaven, we would not be having this debate. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Socialized Medicine-One Size Fits None
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.