Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

What Is the Role of Clinical Ethics Support in the Era of E-Medicine?

Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

What Is the Role of Clinical Ethics Support in the Era of E-Medicine?

Article excerpt

Parker M, Gray JA. J Med Ethics. 2001;27(suppl I):i33-i35.

There are an increasing number of people accessing health care information from the Internet. The information offered by the health-related sites supplements and perhaps replaces traditional resources such as discussions with local physicians, family, and friends. The Internet is broadening the way in which consumers embrace their own health issues. This article discusses three possible challenges for clinicians, which are beginning to come about with the growth of e-medicine and ways to take action about them.

The first challenge of clinical ethics support is the access to information. No longer is a patient's primary care physician the sole source of their health status and treatment options. This trend had been seen already with the emergence of consumer groups, patient support groups, and popular publications focusing on health matters. Without mandates on unofficial health-related web sites, consumers and health professionals must be able to sort out reliable sound information from sometimes unproven treatments.

A second challenge deals with the constructs of access to treatments. The Internet provides the consumer with many treatments they might not otherwise be able to access given their geographical region or laws of their area. The treatments range from the purchasing of medications to advice given about what treatments to seek for a particular condition. This type of access poses a threat to the patient who is not under the supervision of a health care professional. A concern with this kind of access is asking who will be responsible for the ramifications of emergency care for the accidental inappropriateness of these treatments. Will the responsibility be held with the drug company issuing the treatment or clinicians in a different country dispensing advice over the Internet? …

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