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J Med Philos. 1988 Feb;13(1):73-99.

Justice and the severely demented elderly.

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1
Department of Philosophy, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912.

Abstract

In this paper I address the relation between just claims to health care and severe cognitive impairment from dementia. Two general approaches to justice in allocation of health care are distinguished--prudential allocation and interpersonal distribution. First, I analyze why a patient who has died has no further claims to health care. Second, I show why prudential allocators would not provide for health care treatment should they be in a persistent vegetative state. Third, I argue that the destruction of personal identity from severe dementia implies that only claims to palliative, but not life-sustaining, health care remain. Finally, I argue that the prudential allocator approach is indeterminate regarding life-sustaining care for the moderately demented and that social policy should not deny that care to patients.

PMID:
3361249
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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