Sunday, November 29, 2015

Substantial Variation in Healthcare - Australia Too Much Like USA

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has released the first Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation, illuminating variation in health care provision across Australia.

The atlas presents a clear picture of substantial variation in healthcare use across Australia, across areas such as antibiotic prescribing, surgical, mental health and diagnostic services.

We here in the United States have been distressed by these sorts of variations for at least the past 20 years they have been represented in the Dartmouth Atlas.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Lawsuit Attacks Constitutionality of Texas Advance Directives Act

This week, a new lawsuit filed in Harris County, Texas challenges the constitutionality of the dispute resolution provisions in the Texas Advance Directives Act.

Dunn v. Methodist Hospital is not the first lawsuit to attack TADA.  In 2007, for example, the Emilio Gonzales case made similar claims.  But no court has ever ruled on these sorts of constitutional claims.

As I argued, earlier this year, in the American Journal of Bioethics, and as I argue in a newer and more substantial piece forthcoming in the QUT Law Review, these constitutional claims have merit.

Purple, Brown, Grey, White, and Black — Life in Death [EOL in Art 187]

Another hospice photo from Daniel Schumann's  Purple, Brown, Grey, White, and Black — Life in Death.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Call for Abstracts


March 17-18, 2016; Kalamazoo, Michigan


The theme of this conference, hosted by Western Michigan University’s Center for the Study of Ethics in Society, highlights uncertainty as a fundamental factor in bioethics.  Invited speakers include Insoo Hyun, associate professor of bioethics and philosophy at Case Western Reserve University, and Richard Sharp, director of the bioethics program at the Mayo Clinic.
Possible topics for submissions include unintended consequences of innovative medical technologies, public health planning for new diseases, incidental findings in clinical research and practice, prevention of medical error, and communication of risk.  Papers on this general theme will be welcomed from a variety of disciplines and perspectives in relation to policy, practice, research, and communication in fields dealing with bioethics.  These fields include, but are not limited to, bioengineering, biology, medicine, nursing, the social sciences and scientific reporting.

Submission guidelines

Submissions will be accepted in the category of formal papers and panel discussions. Submissions are welcome from academic faculty, graduate students, medical students, medical professionals and research teams consisting of any combination of these.
Submissions should be prepared for blind review; please inspect documents and remove personal information before submitting electronically in .doc/.docx or .pdf format to Corresponding authors should include names of all authors, as well as their affiliations, and the paper or panel title, on a separate title page. Completed papers or extended abstracts of 500-1,000 words will be considered for paper submissions. For panel discussions, submissions should include an abstract summarizing the overall topic of the panel, as well as separate abstracts for each author's contribution, for a total of up to 1,000 words. The deadline for submissions is December 16, 2015. Authors will be notified by January 1, 2016. Please direct inquiries to center Co-Director Sandra L. Borden.

About the center

The Western Michigan University Center for the Study of Ethics in Society encourages and supports research, teaching and service to the University and community in areas of applied and professional ethics. The conference will coincide with observance of the Ethics Center's 30th anniversary. More information about the center, and updates about the conference.

Purple, Brown, Grey, White, and Black — Life in Death [EOL in Art 186]

Photographer Daniel Schumann went to St. Francis Hospice near Dusseldorf, Germany.  He befriended several of the residents at the hospice and got their permission to photograph them throughout their stay.  The project is entitled Purple, Brown, Grey, White, and Black — Life in Death.

His photos depict the residents as they were before and after death. The effect is solemn, yet tranquil. And since death and dying lay at the heart of Schumann’s entire project, something about his subjects’ experience will always remain unknown to his viewer. 

No Money = No ICU Treatment

Gary Dowley suffered an aneurysm while riding a motorcycle on vacation in Thailand.  He needs treatment for a broken neck and leg, facial fractures and a punctured lung.  (Brisbane Times)

Lack of Insurance Coverage
Unfortunately, Dowley's travel insurance has classified his treatment as the result of a motorbike crash, and adjusted the amount of money it pays out.  The family already maxed out their credit cards to make payments. 

Hospital Refusing to Treat
The hospital would not let doctors treat Mr Dowley until they receive payment.  "They wouldn't touch him until they had money. . . .  The hospitals over here are ruthless – if you don't pay, they pull the plug."