Our Hands Are Tied: Legal Tensions and Medical Ethics

By Marshall B. Kapp | Go to book overview

5
Who Is Responsible for This? Everyday Patient Intrusions to Protect the Provider

For the most part, this book examines the influence of legal anxieties on the ethical conduct of health care providers, primarily physicians, within the context of "medical" matters. These "medical" matters have been defined thus far in rather traditional terms, to include such scientific and/ or empirical activities as diagnostic tests and procedures, drug prescription, and therapeutic interventions initiated on the basis of a physician's order and carried out under a physician's supervision and pertaining directly to the patient's bodily health.

The ethical lobotomizing of the health professions resulting from their pervasive obsession with liability risks is by no means limited in its impact to "medical" matters so narrowly defined. The health care delivery system wields an enormous power over the everyday lives of individuals in ways that extend well beyond the diagnosis and treatment of strictly medical maladies.

For example, in 1994 Drake Center in Cincinnati, a long-term care facility, cruelly refused fifty-three-year-old Barry Belinky's request to stay overnight in the bed of his wife of thirty-one years ( Barisic, 1996). Diane Belinky, age 54, was paralyzed and barely able to speak because of a brain aneurysm rupture two years earlier, and the attending physicians held out no hope of recovery or improvement. This refusal of the husband's overnight stay request was issued, according to a memo

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Our Hands Are Tied: Legal Tensions and Medical Ethics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • References xiv
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • 1 - Losing at the Lottery: Physician Perceptions of the Legal Environment 1
  • Notes 22
  • Notes 23
  • 2 - The Lawyer Made Me Do It: from Legal Perception to Medical Practice 27
  • Note 46
  • References 46
  • 3 - Risk Managers and Legal Counsel: Ethical Enablers or Paid Paranoids? 53
  • References 64
  • 4 - Doing Everything: Treating Legal Fears near the End of Life 65
  • Note 87
  • References 88
  • 5 - Who Is Responsible for This? Everyday Patient Intrusions to Protect the Provider 97
  • Note 118
  • References 118
  • 6 - A Dispirited Lot: Malpractice and What Else? 123
  • 7 - Reconciling Risk Management and Medical Ethics: Opportunities and Obstacles 141
  • References 164
  • Index 171
  • Bout the Author 177
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