What Scribner Wrought: How the Invention of Modern Dialysis Shaped Health Law and Policy
29 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2011
Date Written: April 2010
In March 1960, Clyde Shields, a machinist dying from incurable kidney disease, was connected to an "artificial kidney" by means of a U-shaped Teflon tube that came to be known as the Scribner shunt. By facilitating long-term dialysis, Dr. Belding Scriber’s invention changed chronic kidney failure from a fatal illness to a treatable condition. This medical advance has, in turn, had a profound impact on key areas of health law and policy.
This paper focuses on the historical roots and current context of three interrelated areas: ethical allocation of scarce medical resources; public financing of expensive health care; and decisions to stop treatment for non-medically indicated reasons.
Keywords: Dialysis, God Committee, Medicare, Medical Technology, Health Reform, Ethics, Bioethics, Abandonment, Health Policy
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