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Ethical issues in Healthcare resources allocation

Ethical issues in Healthcare resources allocation

Ethical standards in allocation of healthcare resources among the elderly population

and end of life care

The number of elderly people (65 years) is expected to double to 80 million over the
next 30 years. The share of the elderly population will increase 13% – 20% in 2030. This implies
that soon, there will be a higher ratio of elderly people as compared children. The population
aging is a huge force with political, economic and social implications to the society (Hayutin,
Dietz, & Mitchell, 2010). For instance, the rapid increase of cost of healthcare in the past years
has created ethical discussion on allocation of resources. The main ethical issue on allocation of
resources among the elderly is not entirely based on the quantity of treatment provided, but
rather establishing protocols that seek optimum care based on the patient needs (Milstead,
2016).The organization decision making model of healthcare resources among the elderly
population and end of life care should be determined by the following ethical standards namely;
a) need, b) right, c) merit and d) priority (Craig, 2010, p. 29).
The ethical standard of right highlights the fact that every person is entitled to equal
access and consideration of care. As described by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of
Independence (1776), equality in health care is inherent and inalienable. Therefore, every
individual should be given equal opportunity so that they can access quality and safe care
without regard to an individual’s capacity or ability to pay. The ethical standard of merit
indicates providing care to people based on their needs and fitness. This involves assessing
individual cognitive function, degree of illness progression, legal status among others. This

Ethical issues in Healthcare resources allocation

ethical framework guides use of the limited resource to yield the most successful outcome
(Craig, 2010, p. 29).
The ethical framework of need is based on evaluation of patient’s health status. In this
context, an elderly patient who needs cosmetic surgery to repair scaring caused by burn have
greater need as compared to another patient’s needs for the same healthcare procedure for
rhinoplasty. In this context, the most sever painful conditions should receive preferential
treatment during resource allocation (Pavlish et al., 2011). The ethical framework of priority is
important especially when ranking patient’s group. In current settings, there lacks effective
framework on priority of care, which makes the healthcare providers to use their own discretion
to determine who receives care; in most cases, the wealthy receive care before the poor deserving
patients. In an ethical resource allocation framework, the priority is always the needy patient, so
the monetary gains of an organization must not outweigh the patient’s outcome (Craig, 2010,
Ethical implications of resource allocations
The shift towards high population rate of the older population has enormous economic,
social and political implication to the society. This is because as people live longer, there will be
many people above 65 years as compared to children. It is estimated that by 2032, 1 in 5
Americans will be above 65 years. This indicates that there will be fewer potential workers per
every retiree, and the financial as well as social cost of the aging population will increase. This
indicates that the fiscal burden on tax payers will skyrocket (Hayutin, Dietz, & Mitchell, 2010).
The shift towards population will also challenge resource allocation. Suburbs and
traditional nuclear families will increasingly become single and will comprise mainly of the

Ethical issues in Healthcare resources allocation

older couples. Diversity will increase among the older people where 60% of the older population
will be from minorities. The cost of healthcare is likely to be propelled by increase in
technological advancement. Therefore, it is likely that the current healthcare spending might
crowd-out spending for other healthcare needs across the country. If no interventions are put in
place, the current deficits will leave a high interest for principal payments for future generations
(Hayutin, Dietz, & Mitchell, 2010).
Evidently, these unprecedented demographic development calls for an urgent and
strategic action. This calls for a deeper understanding so as to effectively deal with the new
realities of life. This discussion demonstrates that is appropriate measures are put in place; the
high cost of care could be reduced and could free up some resources to reduce public deficits in
the future (Crippen & Barnato, 2011, p. 126).

Ethical issues in Healthcare resources allocation


Craig, H. D. (2010). Caring enough to provide healthcare: An organizational framework for the
ethical delivery of healthcare among aging patients. International Journal for Human
Caring, 14(4), 27–30.
Crippen, D., & Barnato, A. E. (2011). The ethical implications of health spending: Death and
other expensive conditions. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 39(2), 121–129.

Hayutin, A. M., Dietz, M., & Mitchell, L. (2010). New realities of an older America.
Milstead, J. A. (2016). Health policy and politics: A nurse’s guide (5th ed.). Burlington, MA:
Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Pavlish, C., Brown-Saltzman, K., Hersh, M., Shirk, M., & Rounkle, A. (2011). Nursing
priorities, actions, and regrets for ethical situations in clinical practice. Journal of Nursing
Scholarship, 43(4), 385–395.

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