The cost of ethics legislation: a look at the Patient Self-Determination Act.

J. Sugarman, Neil R. Powe, D. A. Brillantes, M. K. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Patient Self-Determination Act (PSDA) requires hospitals to ask patients upon admission whether they have an advance directive. Although the PSDA has received extensive criticism, little attention has been paid to the cost of the law, either during its legislative course or following its implementation. Nonetheless, several tangible and intangible costs are associated with the PSDA. Such costs may be incurred by different parties. This paper examines the costs and benefits of the PSDA and illustrates the extent of some of its tangible costs. The incremental start-up cost for one institution's response to the PSDA is estimated to be $49,304 ($1.31 per admission) and the total implementation cost of the program to be $114,528. In addition, the national incremental start-up cost for hospitals to implement the PSDA is estimated to be between $43,625,114 and $101,569,922. Finally, the potential implications of the PSDA for future governmental health care ethics regulation are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-399
Number of pages13
JournalKennedy Institute of Ethics journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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