Informed Consent in Medicine

Informed Consent in Medicine

Macklin’s discussion in this article raises some interesting questions concerning the role that informed consent plays in medicine. The examples that she considers are complicated. They involve the practice of medicine with cultures that have differing background systems of values and beliefs. Here I want to consider a much simpler example:

Suppose that a patient is considering some surgical procedure. During the patient’s consultation with his physician, he requests that the physician avoids disclosing any risks attended with the procedure. Now, in this case, we can suppose that the physician has no reason to believe that this request is grounded in a background system of metaphysical beliefs, e.g., it could simply be that the patient does not wish to hear the risks. (Perhaps he wants to go through with the procedure, but fears that learning of the associated risks might cause him to change his mind.) Should the physician respect the patient’s request? Justify your answer. cycle

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