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The unethical focus on access: a study of medical ethics and the waiting-time guarantee.

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift
Författare Ingvar Karlberg
B-M Brinkmo
Publicerad i Scandinavian journal of public health
Volym 37
Nummer/häfte 2
Sidor 117-21
ISSN 1403-4948
Publiceringsår 2009
Publicerad vid Institutionen för medicin, avdelningen för samhällsmedicin och folkhälsa
Sidor 117-21
Språk en
Länkar dx.doi.org/10.1177/1403494808101359
Ämnesord Decision Making, Focus Groups, Health Facility Administrators, Health Policy, Health Priorities, Health Services Accessibility, ethics, Health Services Needs and Demand, Humans, Questionnaires, Sweden, Waiting Lists
Ämneskategorier Folkhälsomedicinska forskningsområden


AIM: All civilized societies favour ethical principles of equity. In healthcare, these principles generally focus on needs for medical care. Methods for establishing priorities among such needs are instrumental in this process. In this study, we analysed whether rules on access to healthcare, waiting-time guarantees, conflict with ethical principles of distributive justice. METHODS: We interviewed directors, managers and other decision-makers of various healthcare providers of hospitals, primary care organizations and purchasing offices. We also conducted focus group interviews with professionals from a number of distinct medical areas. RESULTS: Our informants and their co-workers were reasonably familiar with the ethical platforms for priority-setting established by the Swedish parliament, giving the sickest patients complete priority. However, to satisfy the waiting-time guarantees, the informants often had to make priority decisions contrary to the ethical principles by favouring access before needs to keep waiting times within certain limits. The common opinion was that the waiting-time guarantee leads to crowding-out effects, overruling the ethical principles based on needs. CONCLUSIONS: For more than a decade, the interpretation in Sweden of the equitable principle based on medical needs has been distorted through political decisions, leading to healthcare providers giving priority to access rather than needs for care.

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