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A few words about ethics:

March 20, 2015

When we think about risk stratification tools in order to offer higher quality healthcare services for frail patients, it might seem trivial to also think about the risks associated with the implementation of strategies which aim to improve the service. However, when vulnerable patients are involved, some additional precautionary measures might be necessary to make sure that healthcare services provided meet the needs of patients.

Healthcare professionals' duty of care to the patients is expected to be filled with empathy and compassion, respect to dignity and individual autonomy while carefully balancing between benefits and harms certain intervention might bring. Patient stratification can be a powerful tool for improving service delivery, foreseeing what care will be needed and delivering it at the right time that unexpected illness and emergency hospital admissions are reduced to the minimum. Meanwhile, even if stratified and placed into a group, each patient is still an individual with a story behind, cultural and socio-economic context, unique relationships and views of life.

Therefore, ethics is a multi-levelled and multi-layered concept. In a process of creating a tool for risk stratification, more focus might be put on optimal use of available resources and efficient service delivery on a national, continental or even global level, while the regional and local healthcare service providers might have to adjust it to their existing infrastructures. Moreover, it might be left to individual healthcare service provider to make a final judgement if applying particular stratification methodology serves the best interest of an individual patient.

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This webpage arises from the project ASSEHS which has received funding from the European Union, in the framework of the Health Programme (2008-2013).