Ethical Healthcare Issues

BYU Law’s Health Law Club hosted a lecture by Robert R. Harrison, of counsel to Kimball Legal, on Tuesday, November 29, 2016. Harrison is a 2015-2016 Health Law Fellow at the Beazley Institute for Health Law and Policy at Loyola University in Chicago. Harrison focused his remarks on bioethics and the nuances involved in ethical healthcare issues.

Harrison shared his journey into bioethics, from working in health care to attending law school and later joining a medical malpractice defense firm. While new to the firm, Harrison was asked to attend ethics committee meetings, an assignment that rekindled his interest in the “fascinating area” of bioethics. He has been engaged in the field ever since.

According to Harrison, the area of ethics at the convergence of law and medicine is “terribly difficult.” He explained that physicians learn a set of ideals about helping other people, including “do no harm.” However, these ideals sometimes conflict with legal requirements such as administering drugs of execution or ending life support, generating ethical questions and controversy. 

Harrison called for attorneys in the field who are willing to tackle sensitive and difficult questions. “These issues are not clear-cut,” he said. “We are participants in an ongoing dialogue. As lawyers, we are involved in trying to sort these things out, to help human beings help human beings with very human issues.”