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[Justice and equity as determinants of medical decision-making].

  • Le Coz, P
  • Kachaner, J
Published Article
Archives de Pédiatrie
Publication Date
Feb 01, 2010
17 Suppl 1
DOI: 10.1016/S0929-693X(10)70006-3
PMID: 20172455


Every medical decision-making is to do justice to the one who suffers and who considers his pain as nonsensical. This requirement falls into 3 universal ethical principles, governing the patient-doctor relationship: the autonomy of the person even if it is a young child, beneficence and non-maleficence. Adhering to these principles gives medical decision-making its ethical dimension. It implies that the doctor makes the best use of the emotions that he feels in front of his patient and/or in front of his relatives: respect for autonomy, the beneficent compassion and the fear of maleficence in diagnosis and care. If a paediatrician combines these 3 affects harmoniously, his attitude is in keeping with the requirement of justice, which is the quintessence of Ethics. However, reality is often more complex, a source of conflicting emotions and, in fine, a source of an anguish whose benefit is yet to alert on the necessity to carry on looking for the right decision-making: the emotional revision consists of a meta-analysis of the objective and subjective data of the problem. It preciously helps to establish a compromise of justice. Eventually, in order to be just, the doctor must include the concern of equity amongst the criteria of his decision-making, in other words a fair allocation of the goods and of the care services. Unfortunately, this concern is undermined by geopolitical, socio-economic and cultural factors, which vary greatly according to the environmental conditions that might mar what should be optimal ethical decisionmaking. The doctor cannot solve these problems on his own, but he has to know them in order to deal with them.

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