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Arch Hellen Med, 28(6), November-December 2011, 737-745


The practice of medicine in relation to the limitation of availability of financial resources

C. Milionis
School of Social Sciences, University of Peloponnese, Prefectural General Hospital of Corinth, Korinthos, Greece

It is generally accepted that both the physician and the health system should aim to defend the health of each patient individually and protect the health of the population in general. Nowadays, however, the cost of supplying health services and products is undergoing significant and rapid increase, mainly due to developments in medical science, the expectations of the public and demographic ageing. This phenomenon causes intense financing problems. Since the resources allocated for the organization and operation of the health system are not unlimited, it is obvious that the immoderate consumption of these resources by certain patients limits their use by the rest of the population. For this reason, it is necessary to seek optimal distribution of the available resources in order to meet the needs for constriction of the expenses. Efforts directed towards optimal allocation of resources should be conditioned by the principles of social justice and the need for protection of the patient. Cost restraints can be achieved through the evasion of waste and restriction of those processes and interventions which are of minimal or uncertain benefit but high cost. To achieve this, the criteria of effectiveness and efficiency are used. The measurement of effectiveness is based on the findings of evidence-based medicine, while efficiency is calculated using economic analyses that relate the costs to the results. Health policies focus on both the behavior of the public and the rules of medical practice. In the face of these contemporary challenges the role of the physician is of particular importance for both the protection of the individual patient's health and the promotion of public health.

Key words: Health economics, Health policy, Medical ethics.

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