Rethinking the Rescue Paradigm

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Kayhan Parsi

Tag(s): Journal article


A little girl gets caught in a well and first responders spend hours trying to rescue her. Miners in Chile get trapped for months after a mining accident and are eventually saved. Both events riveted the attention of millions of people. The narrative of rescuing people in dire situations is a powerful and pervasive one. It not only animates much of popular media and culture, but it also undergirds how we arrange health care services. An identifiable individual who is in distress will garner scarce health care resources, whether through an ambulance service, emergency room personnel, or expensive drug therapies. Why do we accord such deference to the rescue paradigm in health care? Why do we value identified lives more than statistical lives? These are some of the underlying questions Jeremy Garrett (2015) is trying to address in this month’s target article (“Collectivizing Rescue Obligations in Bioethics”). […]

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