Rr

Acronym for relative risk. Rule of Rescue

The so-called 'rule of rescue' is often proposed as an alternative (or supplement) to a cost-effectiveness criterion for selecting which treatments ought to be made available and to whom. The rule of rescue, in a general sense, reflects the general concern that many people have for those facing the immediate prospect of death (or something else regarded as pretty awful) and, in economic terms, it might be seen as a way of describing a caring externality. In situations where cost-effectiveness is being used as the basic criterion for determining the treatments that are to be made available within a health care benefits package, the rule of rescue is suggested as an element to be brought into consideration when the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio is highly unfavourable, there is only one treatment option, death is imminent, the situation occurs rarely and the total cost to the third party payer is 'small' (these are criteria used by the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme). It is not altogether clear whether such a flagrant breach of cost-effectiveness principles might be avoided, but the intentions of those advocating the 'rule' still realized, by weighting health gains to those with relatively short life expectation or who have chronic past and/or prospective disabilities higher than health gains accruing to others within the cost-effectiveness algorithm.

306 Rule Utilitarianism

It seems plain however, whatever one may think of its merits, that it is not really a 'rule' at all.

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