Get access

Who Do We Treat First When Resources Are Scarce?



In a health service with limited resources we must make decisions about who to treat first. In this paper I develop a version of the restoration argument according to which those whose need for resources is a consequence of their voluntary choices should receive lower priority when it comes to health care. I then consider three possible problems for this argument based on those that have been raised against other theories of this type: that we don't know in a particular case that the illness is self-inflicted, that it seems that all illness is self-inflicted in the sense used in my argument, and finally that this type of approach incorporates an unacceptable moralising element if it is to avoid giving those like fire-fighters a lower priority for treatment. I argue that the position outlined here has the resources to respond to each of these objections.