ABSTRACT: This article explores the ethical issues faced by clinicians with management responsibilities (clinician/managers) when making decisions related to resource allocation and utilization at a Canadian teaching hospital. Using a focus group method, 28 individuals participated in four homogeneous groups that included nurse managers, managers from other professional groups, and physician managers. Ethical issues that recurred throughout the discussions included fairness, concern with preventing harm, consumer/patient choice, balancing needs of different groups of patients, conflict between financial incentives and patient needs, and professional autonomy. The particular issue of conflict is analyzed from two perspectives--a theory of professional-bureaucratic roles and of obligation--that illustrate how both management and philosophical issues are related. The findings suggest that decentralizing resource allocation and utilization decisions does raise ethical issues for clinician/managers and that a better understanding of these issues can be obtained using an interdisciplinary perspective.
Hospital & health services administration 02/1993; 38(2):267-85.