MEDICAL ETHICS: Managing Risk is a Component of Real Health Caring

Demanding High Moral Standards of Self … and Economic HEALTHCARE Organizations

Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP®


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It has been argued that physicians have abdicated the “moral high ground” in health care by their interest in seeking protection for their high incomes, their highly publicized self-referral arrangements, and their historical opposition toward reform efforts that jeopardized their clinical autonomy. 

Experts Speak

In his book Medicine at the Crossroads, colleague and Emory University professor Melvin Konnor, MD noted that “throughout its history, organized medicine has represented, first and foremost, the pecuniary interests of doctors.” He lays significant blame for the present problems in health care at the doorstep of both insurers and doctors, stating that “the system’s ills are pervasive and all its participants are responsible.” 

In order to reclaim their once esteemed moral position, physicians must actively reaffirm their commitment to the highest standards of the medical profession and call on other participants in the health care delivery system also to elevate their values and standards to the highest level.


In the evolutionary shifts in models for care, physicians have been asked to embrace business values of efficiency and cost effectiveness, sometimes at the expense of their professional judgment and personal values.  While some of these changes have been inevitable as our society sought to rein in out-of-control costs, it is not unreasonable for physicians to call on payers, regulators and other parties to the health care delivery system to raise their ethical bar. 

Harvard University physician-ethicist Linda Emmanuel noted that “health professionals are now accountable to business values (such as efficiency and cost effectiveness), so business persons should be accountable to professional values including kindness and compassion.” 

Within the framework of ethical principles, John La Puma, M.D., wrote in Managed Care Ethics, that “business’s ethical obligations are integrity and honesty.  Medicine’s are those plus altruism, beneficence, non-maleficence, respect, and fairness.”

Incumbent in these activities is the expectation that the forces that control our health care delivery system, the payers, the regulators, and the providers will reach out to the larger community, working to eliminate the inequities that have left so many Americans with limited access to even basic health care. 

Charles Dougherty clarified this obligation in Back to Reform, when he noted that “behind the daunting social reality stands a simple moral value that motivates the entire enterprise”. 


Health care is indeed grounded in caring. And, managing risk is a component of caring. It arises from a sympathetic response to the suffering of others.



Risk Management, Liability Insurance, and Asset Protection Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™




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