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How Ethical Is Our Current Delivery of Care to Patients with Severe and Complicated Obesity?
2018-07, Craig, Hilary, le Roux, Carel W., Keogh, Fiona, Finucane, Francis M.
Despite overwhelming evidence that bariatric interventions reduce morbidity and mortality and are cost-effective, access for affected patients is limited. We sought to describe the extent to which health policy makers and publically funded health services have an ethical obligation to provide bariatric care. We conducted a narrative review of the literature pertaining to the efficacy, safety, and cost-effectiveness of bariatric surgical interventions, in the context of the core principles of medical ethics. We found that in relation to autonomy (i.e., the right to self-determination), beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice (i.e., the obligation to provide fair and equitable treatment to all patients), the current provision of bariatric surgical care fell short of meeting internationally recognized medical ethical standards. These findings have important implications for government policy and healthcare resource allocation. Respecting the individual’s right of self-determination, to do good, prevent harm, and provide equity in access to services is paramount, even when that individual is obese.