Bioethics: Autonomy and Informed Consent

Legally based ethics concentrate on minimum requirements. How does this relate to the three-tiered system of obligations?

What do you feel is the greatest threat to physician autonomy? Why? Defend your answer.

Practice guidelines are often perceived as a threat to physician autonomy. However, the true challenge to physician autonomy is the rising costs of health care, which in turn is the result of continued progress in medical research. Since, inevitably, choices must be made about how our limited resources are expended, an increasing number of physicians are concluding that health care providers should assume financial risk for providing care – so that providers can make the decisions about which interventions are used for which patients. In this context, groups of physicians are adopting practice guidelines as an important strategy for providing high quality and efficient care under capitation. At least in some areas, practice guidelines are emerging as a critical tool for physicians to assume financial risk, and thereby protect professional autonomy.

“many writers in bioethics believe that all intentional suppression of pertinent information violates a patient’s autonomy rights and violates the fundamental duties of the health professional.” Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why?

Why do you suppose that informed consent came into being? What are the drawbacks to informed consent?

What special problems are encountered with the duty to tell the truth when the patient is a child or an adolescent?

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