Friday, December 09, 2005

Lifestyles may lead to loss of treatment

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has recommended that NHS patients should not be given treatments whose effectiveness will be compromised by unhealthy lifestyle choices. Smokers and binge drinkers might be denied a heart transplant, or the obese hip and knee replacements:
NICE and its advisory bodies should avoid denying care to patients with conditions that are, or may be, self-inflicted (in part or in whole). If, however, self-inflicted cause(s) of the condition influence the clinical or cost effectiveness of the use of an intervention, it may be appropriate to take this into account

Some MPs are unfortunately trying to score some cheap points over this.
Steve Webb, the Liberal Democrats' health spokesman, said: "There is no excuse for cash-strapped hospitals denying treatment to people whose lifestyle they disapprove of. Treatment decisions involving people's lifestyle should be based on clinical reasons, not grounds of cost."

It seems entirely reasonable to me that expensive treatments should not be given to patients who continue to damage their own health and significantly reduce the chances of the treatment working. And NICE agrees:
For both legal and bioethical reasons those undertaking technology appraisals and developing clinical guidelines must take account of economic considerations

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