Navigating Healthcare – Patient Safety and Personal Healthcare Management

NICE Measures – How much is life worth

Posted in Healthcare Information, Personal Health Record by drnic on December 5, 2008

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence has been grappling with the issue of the value of life for some years in the United Kingdom. Other countries watch with great interest given the limited pot of resources available to treat the population. In the recent article in the NY Times British Balance Benfit vs Cost of Latest Drugs detailed the impact on one patient who’s treatment was

…at that price, Mr. Hardy’s life is not worth prolonging….decided that Britain, except in rare cases, can afford only £15,000, or about $22,750, to save six months of a citizen’s life.

Which in this case created a storm and additional reviews. All this came out of the Viagra problem…. a new drug in a previously untreated group of problems – erectile dysfunction at a very high cost. The NHS placed restrictions and set in process the inevitable chain of law suits and access demands and rights. NICE became the formal independent mechanism to provide this judgement. As individuals we dislike these systems and they seem unpalatable when linked to individual cases but the concept is a necessary part of medicine and is really an extension of the Randomized Controlled Study designed to determine effectiveness scientifically. Clinicians face these issues daily and some are willing to make decisions, some are not but in all cases there does need to be some review. The world has a limited set of resources and applying those for best effect are one of the critical challenges facing humanity and in particular the medical profession over the coming months and weeks.

As customers, patients and consumers we have to participate in this process. Until such time as resources become unlimited these decisions will be made and it is better to be a participant and understand the decisions and even help influence and shape them than be a bystander. Learn about the choices, listen to your doctor and health care professional and help them to help you in making the right choices.


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  1. […] commented on the NICE measure before where an individual wanted to pay for the drugs himself but in doing so fell out of the group […]

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