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Winkler, Eva (2011): Rationalisierung, Rationierung, Priorisierung: Terminologie und ethische Begründungsansätze zur Allokation bei begrenzten Ressourcen in der Hämatologie/Onkologie. In: Onkologie, No. 1: pp. 2-5 [PDF, 73kB]

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Rationalization, Rationing, Prioritization: Terminology and Ethical Approaches to the Allocation of Limited Resources in Hematology/Oncology The field of oncology with its numerous high-priced innovations contributes considerably to the fact that medical progress is expensive. Additionally, due to the demographic changes and the increasing life expectancy, a growing number of cancer patients want to profit from this progress. Since resources are limited also in the health system, the fair distribution of the available resources urgently needs to be addressed. Dealing with scarcity is a typical problem in the domain of justice theory; therefore, this article first discusses different strategies to manage limited resources: rationalization, rationing, and prioritization. It then presents substantive as well as procedural criteria that assist in the just distribution of effective health benefits. There are various strategies to reduce the utilization of limited resources: Rationalization means that efficiency reserves are being exhausted; by means of rationing, effective health benefits are withheld due to cost considerations. Rationing can occur implicitly and thus covertly, e. g. through budgeting or the implementation of waiting periods, or explicitly, through transparent rules or policies about healthcare coverage. Ranking medical treatments according to their importance (prioritization) is often a prerequisite for rationing decisions. In terms of requirements of justice, both procedural and substantive criteria (e. g. equality, urgency, benefit) are relevant for the acceptance and quality of a decision to limit access to effective health benefits.

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