Center Acting Director and Professor Dr. Leonard Fleck is the author of an article published in the April 2020 issue of the Journal of Medical Ethics. “Just caring: screening needs limits” is in response to “Arrogance of ‘but all you need is a good index finger’: A narrative ethics exploration of lack of universal funding of PSA screening in Canada” by Dr. Jeff Nisker.
Abstract: This personal narrative tugs at the heart strings. However, personal narratives are not sufficient to justify public funding for any screening policy. We have to take seriously the ‘just caring’ problem. We have only limited resources to meet virtually unlimited health care needs. No doubt, screening tests often save lives. The author wants public funding for prostate-specific antigen screening for prostate cancer. However, why only prostate cancer? Numerous cancers at various stages can be screened for. Are all of them equally deserving of public funding? What about screening for a very long list of other life-threatening medical disorders? There is nothing ethically special about cancer. Where does the money come from to pay for all these screening tests? Do we reduce expensive life-prolonging care for patients in late-stage diseases? Ultimately, a balance must be struck between saving statistical lives through screening and saving identifiable lives in the intensive care unit. Achieving a just balance requires rational democratic deliberation as justification for these choices, not personal narratives.
The full text is available online via BMJ Journals (MSU Library or other institutional access may be required to view this article).
Center Assistant Professor Dr. Marleen Eijkholt has a new article in the Winter 2017 issue of Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics. Authored by Dr. Eijkholt, Jane Jankowski, and Marilyn Fisher, the article is titled “Screen Shots: When Patients and Families Publish Negative Health Care Narratives Online.”
Abstract: Social media sites and their relationship to health care is a subject of intense debate. Common discussions regarding social media address patient privacy, or e-professionalism. This case study explores the tensions that arise for health care providers when negative patient statements surface in social media and blog forums. Recognizing that patients and families often find relief in sharing personal illness narratives, we contemplate if, and how, individual health care professionals and institutions should address complaints aired in public, unmoderated media. Our discussion begins by presenting a case of a family blogging on the Internet to share grievances (to deidentify the case, we have changed some details). Next, we offer an exploration of the impact on health care delivery when professionals become aware of specific criticisms published online. Strategies for managing electronic criticisms are then proposed. We conclude by proposing a novel E-THICS approach to address negative patient expressions via electronic word of mouth (eWOM). Our examination of this evolving issue focuses on maintaining satisfactory relationships between health care providers and patients/families when dealing with health care narratives published in open online media.
The full text is available online through Project MUSE/Johns Hopkins University Press (MSU Library or other institutional access may be required to view this article).