• rss
  • facebook
  • twitter
  • linkedin

Medical Ethics and the Stewardship of Health Care Resources

“Physicians have a responsibility to practice effective and efficient health care and to use health care resources responsibly. Parsimonious care that utilizes the most efficient means to effectively diagnose a condition and treat a patient respects the need to use resources wisely…”
-ACP Ethics Manual, Sixth Edition

Conflicting Duties?

The physician’s primary duty, first and foremost, is to the individual patient. She or he must advocate for the patient-- in a health care system that grows more and more complex by the year-- based on the best interests of the patient. But the physician also should use health care resources responsibly and efficiently. Are these duties in conflict? The ACP Ethics Manual and ethics case studies from the ACP Ethics, Professionalism and Human Rights Committee explore these issues and provide help in sorting them out.

Is it Rationing?

The ACP Ethics Manual tells us that “parsimonious” care “utilizes the most efficient means to effectively diagnose a condition and treat a patient” and also respects the need for appropriate and equitable use of resources. And the primary basis for these physician judgments? Evidence-based medicine.

Parsimonious medicine care is not rationing. The goal of medical parsimony is to provide the care necessary for the patient's good-- not to reduce resource use-- although it may have the welcome side effect of preserving resources. It is this difference in intent and action that helps provide a foundation for the ethical distinction between parsimonious medicine and rationing.

Exploring Stewardship

In exploring these issues further, the ACP staff developed ethics case studies through an award from the ABIM Foundation’s Putting the Charter into Practice project.

ACP’s High Value Care Project

Get ACP clinical recommendations and other information at the High Value Care website

Earn CME Credits

Earn CME Credits through attending live meetings, working online, or watching course recordings on your own schedule.

ACP JournalWise

Reviews of the World's Top Medical Journals - FREE to ACP Members!
New CME Option: Internal Medicine 2014 Recordings
ACP JournalWiseSM is mobile optimized with optional email alerts! Get access to reviews from over 120 of the world's top medical journals alerting you to the highest quality, most clinically relevant new articles based on your preferred areas of specialty. ACP Members register your FREE account now!

New CME Option: Internal Medicine 2014 Recordings

New CME Package
New CME Option: Internal Medicine 2014 Recordings
Includes 75 of the most popular sessions in internal medicine and the subspecialties. Stream the sessions, answer brief quizzes and earn CME credit. See details.