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October 9, 1995

Ethics and Organ Use

Author Affiliations

Boston, Mass

Arch Intern Med. 1995;155(18):2013-2017. doi:10.1001/archinte.1995.00430180131016

The recent special article in the Archives on the ethical considerations in the allocation of scarce resources by the American Medical Association's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs1 begins a very important dialogue designed to provide a moral framework for patient care in any health care system. We hope to develop new criteria for the distribution of scarce resources (such as transplantable organs, "high-tech, high expense," or experimental care) in the future, but we must recognize that no resource is unlimited. Thus, we will most assuredly find it necessary to allocate any resources on the basis of maximum benefit. The Council suggests that certain criteria for resource allocation are ethically "unacceptable" a priori. The statement that a patient's contribution to his or her own medical condition or repeated abuse of resources should not be ethically considered in the allocation of scarce resources relies on some rather specious arguments for