It was our pleasure to interview ASLME member and JLME author Nadia Sawicki about her contribution to JLME 45.1, her experience with the Society, and her work at Loyola University Chicago School of Law.
1. Your paper “Informed Consent as Societal Stewardship” discusses whether the implications of a patient’s decision beyond their own health should be a part of the informed consent conversation. Why does this issue interest you?
When a patient makes a medical decision, she is – understandably – focused on her own best interests. What procedure will get me the most favorable outcome? What treatment aligns best with my personal values and needs? What diagnostic test will rule out the condition I’m most worried about? But health care providers have the benefit of seeing these individual patient decisions in a broader societal context, and sometimes struggle to respond appropriately when a patient’s choice seems problematic on a societal level. This issue arises often when patients request resource-intensive treatments or diagnostic tests that are not indicated for their conditions, or when patients’ choices may have negative public health implications (for example, choosing not to vaccinate a child, or requesting unnecessary antibiotics). In such cases, physicians may try to balance their ethical obligations to their patients with their obligation to - in the words of the ABIM Charter on Medical Professionalism - “promote justice in the health care system, including the fair distribution of health care resources.” The informed consent conversation is potentially one avenue to do this.
2. You are a Professor of Law and Academic Director for the Beazley Institute for Health Law and Policy at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. What is your favorite part of your job?
I have the best job in the world, so it’s hard for me to pick a favorite element. That said, I find it incredibly gratifying when my Intro to Health Law students return in the fall after working summer jobs and tell me how well-prepared they felt to deal with the matters they were asked to work on. “My partner was working on an ERISA question, and I was the only associate who knew the difference between §502 and §514!”
3. How has your ASLME membership helped you professionally?
The most beneficial aspect of ASLME membership for me has been developing close connections with my colleagues. Since attending my first Health Law Professors Conference in 2008, I continue to be amazed at how welcoming and supportive this community is. My ASLME colleagues are my co-authors, co-chairs, editors, and friends - and with every ASLME meeting that list grows.
4. You’ve attended and presented at several Health Law Professors Conferences. Do you have a favorite memory from this event?
It’s got to be our visit to the City Museum in St. Louis in 2015! From an artistic perspective, the museum is phenomenal. From the perspective of a torts professor, the place is a death trap. But I couldn’t help but have a smile on my face sliding down a 10-story slide and seeing my colleagues do the same.
5. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Yoga, hiking, gardening, eating at all the delicious restaurants that Chicago has to offer, and cooking. I also forage for mushrooms and ferment my own sauerkraut – so if any ASLME members are brave enough to come over for dinner, you’ve got an open invitation.