The issue of health care rationing was an important factor in the debate over the health care bill that President Obama signed into law in 2010. Whether such rationing will

The issue of health care rationing was an important factor in the debate over the health care bill that President Obama signed into law in 2010. Whether such rationing will occur remains to be seen.  If it does, though, it will undoubtedly have the greatest effect on the elderly — that is, some government administrator or health care panel may decide that certain expensive medical procedures will not be approved for people above a certain age. Similar decisions could also be made about the level of care given in assisted living facilities and nursing homes. A very competent druggist, well versed in the latest pharmacological studies, receives a prescription from a physician and recognizes that it is for a dangerous, highly addictive, and largely discredited medication.  She calls the physician and is told curtly to mind her own business.  As the customer waits in the front of the store, the druggist ponders the situation. “Should I refuse to fill it? Should I tell the customer I am certain the doctor has made a mistake?  Should I call the medical board and report the incident?”  She decides to fill the prescription. A doctor on duty in a hospital emergency room one Halloween night treats a 15-year-old boy whose eye was injured by an exploding firecracker.  He notices the boy is drunk.  Because the extent of the injury is not certain, he has the boy admitted to the hospital and notifies his parents.  When they arrive, the boy is under sedation, so his drunken condition escapes their detection.  Nevertheless, the doctor informs them that their son had been drinking. A psychiatrist is treating a very disturbed and potentially violent man. One day the man tells her that he has recurring thoughts of killing a stranger, whom he will choose at random.  He details exactly how he will carry out the crime.  A few days later the psychiatrist reads in the newspaper that the very same crime her patient described has been committed.  She has no doubt that her patient committed it; every detail is identical.  The psychiatrist would like to inform the police, but she decides not to.

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