Medical and Health Commons

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Charlotte Hess:

"The ethics of health care system reform are best viewed as parallel to clinical ethics. The individual good of patient care is a microcosm of the social good of reform. By writing clinical ethics "large" we may help construct a new American "health care Commons," matching public good and private interests. (d’Oronzio)

The early works on the medical commons were written by H.H. Hiatt: Protecting the Medical Commons: Who is Responsible? (1975) and Will Disease Prevention Spare the Medical Commons. 1985.

In both cases, Hiatt drew from Hardin’s tragedy metaphor (see Wehrwein 1998).


“Commons” is very hard to search in the medical field. A search in Medline Plus for “commons” will bring up all that is “common” starting with the “common cold.” “Common pool” pulls up “water safety;” “Common property” results in skin conditions! Health and medical care are growing commons issues (Smith-Nonini 2006; Beetstra et al. 2002; Gochfeld, Burger, Goldstein 2001; Kaufman et al. 2006; Saltman and Bergman 2005; Cassel and Brennan 2007; Jütting 2004; Nambiar 1996). Many of these works focus on collective action initiatives—the need to build new commons systems and networks. Kapczynski, et al. (2005) suggest a system of open licensing to assuage global health inequality.

Chandrakanth et al. (2002) represent the work concerned with the conservation and protection of indigenous medicinal plants.

Cassel and Brennan (2518) write:

- Physicians cannot afford to ignore the profound logic of the link between care for individual patients and the costs of the care. The more care costs, the more likely many individuals will be without good insurance, and research clearly shows their health will suffer. It is impossible to avoid the fact that physicians live and work in a medical commons and bear responsibility for it.

Medical budgets are included in the Infrastructure sector. Interesting works on the commons and the use of antimicrobials are Levin (2001); Horowitz (2003); and Baquero and Campos (2003)." (http://ssrn.com/abstract=1356835)


Source: Charlotte, Mapping the New Commons (July 1, 2008). [1]