Hastings Center Report, November-December 2019
GoFundMe urged to halt campaigns for unproven medical treatments; the case for new laws to stem the doctor burnout crisis; why sugar taxes don’t undermine liberty
Over $650 million annually is raised for medical needs on the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe, with 1,059 campaigns for unproven and potentially dangerous interventions identified in one search. Crowdfunding campaigns can “mislead donors, spread misinformation and may even harm those receiving the money,” write authors Jeremy Snyder and I. Glenn Cohen in “Medical Crowdfunding for Unproven Medical Treatments: Should GoFundMe Become a Gatekeeper?” “We urge GoFundMe and other crowdfunding platforms to move forward with restricting campaigns for unproven medical treatments more widely and as soon as possible given the ongoing and growing harms of inaction,” they write. GoFundMe and similar platforms are aware they are being used in potentially unethical campaigns, yet they have done little to stop them, the authors maintain.
In “Physician Burnout Calls for Legal Intervention,” Sharon Hoffman writes that hospitals with a high burnout rate among doctors should receive lower payments from Medicare, among other measures. Hoffman argues that the law routinely safeguards the health of workers such as pilots and air traffic controllers in safety-critical professions – and, as physician’s jobs are also safety-critical, they also deserve focused legal intervention.
“Sugar, Taxes, & Choice” addresses objections to taxing sugar-sweetened beverages, noting that they have been prominent in the public debate on the grounds that they interfere with individuals’ freedom and autonomy. The authors make the case that these arguments are often compromised by confusion over the concepts of freedom and autonomy. They explain why less freedom does not necessarily entail less autonomy.
Also in the issue: Emergency room doctor Jay Baruch writes about an embarrassing encounter with a patient in “Why Won’t My Patient Act Like a Jerk?” A set of essays (by Tod S. Chambers, Arthur W. Frank, and Philip M. Rosoff) explores the ethics of writing stories of patient care. Rebecca Dresser analyzes the legal issues in executing a prisoner with dementia, and Hilde Lindemann warns that gender is bad for your health.
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