1713: The ethical implications of excessive prevention – part of workshop #298

I. Heath
Royal College of General Practitioners, London, United Kingdom
Presentation type: Oral Communication
This abstract is submitted as part of Workshop # 298. Throughout human history, unscrupulous people have sought to make money out of human illness. One contemporary manifestation of this is the global screening industry which sets out to identify an ever-greater proportion of the population as being at risk of premature death or disabling illness, and then to sell a preventive intervention. The thresholds for intervention have become totally out of proportion to the degree of risk involved and this is clearly working in the interests of the medico-industrial complex. I will present three of the possible ethical implications and seek suggestions of others from the participants. The first is the extent of harm to individuals caused by being labelled as being at risk and the unnecessary fear that this can engender, which itself can undermine health and well-being. The second concerns the potential of excessive prevention to render healthcare systems based on social solidarity unviable because of the escalating costs involved. The third is the way in which biotechnological preventive activity marginalises and obscures the socio-economic causes of ill-health.

Disclosure: No conflict of interest declared
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