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Wednesday, February 8th 2006

Reasonable Care

Do my arguments against health care as a right disallow standard of care principles?

I argue that defining what one has “rights” to is too inconsistent and variable for healthcare to be an inherent right. Do you get the MRI or not? And while I understand the limitations to rights, I think I’ve outlined well the comparative high arbitrary level of any definition of healthcare rights compared to, say, other accepted rights.

However, even without establishing health care as a right the American judicial system holds physicians to, not arbitrary, but certain arguable levels of “reasonable care”. Indeed, the argument is the center piece of every medical malpractice lawsuit. If the JD’s had their way bad outcomes would define negligent standards (and there is only the slightest hyperbole in that statement).

If I refuse to accept applied limits to the right of healthcare does that mean that I must argue against patient protection. I certainly don’t wish to argue against standard of care measurements and I don’t think I actually have to to maintain my argument.

Certainly my tirade against healthcare as a right is amateurish and has many unidentified flaws (and by that I mean unidentified by myself), some of them probably fatal. I don’t think this is one of them.

In one light defining a patient’s right to quality once care has commenced but denying the right to care at all seems silly. I think that is a reasonable distinction however. Certainly you’d have to search far and wide to find someone who would argue the practitioner’s responsibility to take on all patients in a non-emergent scenario.

I can limit the example to that situation because I’ve always maintained a right to acute care and nothing more. That in and of itself is an expensive, in terms of both dollars and human life, and sometimes impractical position, and yet one I think is defensible from a more thoughtful approach. Claiming it as a defensible position may be overstating my critical reasoning skills. Enough self insults though. If there’s no right to care from a single physician I don’t see the argument for the right to care from the physician population.

On the other side once a patient is taken on standards of care become merely the most acceptable form of consumer protection. There’s nothing wrong with the government basically dictating the most basic of terms under which a physician takes on a patient, which is basically what reasonable care thresholds are. Government’s role is to protect me from you (or the patient from the physician), not to protect you from misfortune (for example, illness or death).

And blah, blah, blah, blah.