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At the Center

Capturing the lively discussions, presentations, and other events that make up the daily activities of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

The following postings have been filtered by tag medical ethics. clear filter
  •  Seasonal Flu: The Ethics of Staying at Home

    Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012 10:57 AM

    A university student must decide whether to ignore his flu symptoms in order to take part in a group presentation.  Is it worse to let down his presentation partners or to expose others to his germs?  

    This case study was written by Sarah Ludwig, and SCU student and Honzel Fellow at the Ethics Center.

  •  Mandates and Morals: A Talk by Carol Keehan, DC

    Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012 5:06 PM

    President and Chief Executive Officer of the Catholic Health Association of the United States Carol Keehan, S.J., will discuss ethical issues facing Catholic health care providers at a talk Oct. 17, 7 p.m., in the St. Clare Room of the Santa Clara University Learning Commons. 

  •  Seasonal and Pandemic Flu: An Ethical Toolkit

    Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012 4:10 PM

    With flu season almost upon us, the Ethics Center offers a timely resource: Ethical Issues in Dealing with Influenza. The material, including cases, commentaries, and practical tools, addresses both pandemic and seasonal outbreaks.  Topics covered include vaccine rationing, quarantine, and triage.


    Photo by Jason Rogers [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

  •  Should Pre-Health Students Be English Majors?

    Thursday, May. 3, 2012 10:35 AM

    The best preparation for a career in medicine may be a degree in the humanities. That suggestion by author Abraham Verghese, this year's DeNardo lecturer at SCU, will be the focus of a panel discussion today at noon in the Wiegand Center. The panelists are all highly regarded SCU faculty who work closely with students pursuing careers in health care.

    -- Stephen Carroll, SCU English Department

    -- Steven Fedder, SCU Chemistry and Pre-Health Advisor

    -- Lawrence Nelson, SCU Philosophy

    This event is being done in coordination with the DeNardo Lecture Committee.

  •  California Health Districts Sitting on Reserves

    Monday, Mar. 12, 2012 11:58 AM

    Responding to a reporter for the New York Times investigating health care district spending in California, Center Senior Fellow in Government Ethics Judy Nadler commented, “The outrage factor is we have public agencies that are collecting money that is not being used for the purposes for which the agencies were originally established....  The question is, how are they helping the public right now by having that money in the bank?

    For example, the tax-supported Peninsula Health Care District was holding a $43million reserve while uninsured citizens of the district were waiting as much as a year to see a doctor.  The Los Medanos Community Healthcare District spent just half of its revenue, with the balance--more than $400,000-- going to "administrative and operating expenses, including stipends for the board of directors, travel and election fees and a board retreat."



  •  Medical Marijuana

    Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012 2:02 PM

    With state and federal laws in conflict about medical marijuana, cities are struggling to define clear, consistent policies for dispensaries within their jurisdictions. The Center’s Public Sector Roundtable brought together local officials this month to discuss ethical issues that arise from the presence of dispensaries in a community.


  •  When a Physician Refuses to Transfer a Patient to Hospice

    Friday, Dec. 16, 2011 3:17 PM

    Periodically, visitors to our Web site send us fascinating questions. While we can't respond to each one, this question from a nurse raised an issue we think may of general interest. The answer is by bioethicist Margaret R. McLean, the Center's associate director.

    Q: Where can I find information about a physician's refusal to honor a patient's repeated request for hospice? The request was repeatedly denied until she changed doctors. We are looking for ways to change this and advocate for others who are being refused.

    A: Your question intrigued me, partly because anecdotal evidence would indicate that the situation you describe is far from rare. However, I have no clear answer. I brought your case to two colleagues—one an elder law attorney and the other a hospice chaplain. They both found it an interesting question for which they, too, had no answer.

    Whereas one would hope that a physician would follow the directions given by his/her patient, this is not always the case, as you know. There are legitimate reasons for physician's refusal, e.g., what the patient is requesting is not medically indicated; what the patient is requesting may be medically indicated but the physician (or other health care professional) refuses for reasons of conscience.

    In such cases, once it is established that an impasse has been reached, the physician should make every effort to transfer care to another physician who is willing to comply with the patient's wishes. In the acute care setting, communication between physician and patient could be facilitated by the Ethics Committee, which could provide the opportunity for value identification and conversation about goals of care. In the case that you present, the burden fell on the patient to change doctors. I believe that the right outcome was achieved, but the burden was misplaced.

    Here's where your desire to advocate on behalf of patients facing similar circumstances becomes vitally important to good patient care. It certainly helps to have someone—or, better yet, more than one—on the care team advocate for the patient's best interest, in this case, a transfer to hospice care. If this is in an acute care setting, then I would involve the Ethics Committee as well.

    I have seen cases in which there has been a long-term relationship between the physician and patient, and the physician has a hard time "letting go." I have also seen cases in which a particular physician will never refer to hospice, a very unfortunate state of affairs. In such cases, ethics asks us to follow the patient's best interest and articulated goals of care, and facilitate a transfer of care to a physician who will comply with the patient's wishes and complete the hospice referral.

  •  The Cost of Medical Care

    Tuesday, Apr. 19, 2011 11:31 AM

    From an ethical point of view, can the cost of a treatment figure into medical decision making?  Does this put a dollar figure on the value of human life?  Center Bioethics Director Margaret R. McLean leads a discussion with the Center's Emerging Issues group about whether, as individuals or as a society, we can take into account the financial burdens of medical care when we decide decide to accept or forego treatment.