Author(s)Loewy, Erich H.
Philosophy of Medicine
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AbstractThis paper argues that we have wrongly and not for the patient's benefit made a form of stark autonomy our highest value which allows physicians to slip out from under their basic duty which has always been to pursue a particular patient's good. In general - I shall argue - it is the patient's right to select his or her own goals and the physician's duty to inform the patient of the feasibility of that goal and of the means needed to attain it. If the goal is not one that is possible, the patient, with the physician and family, must select a feasible goal and then discuss the costs/benefits of various approaches. The physician should take a leading role in helping the patient select the goal. I argue that to simply present a laundry list of means and insist that patients choose for themselves is not only abandoning patients to their autonomy but is, in fact, a crass form of violating the patient's autonomy. Freely choosing not to choose is a choice a patient with decisional capacity is entitled to make and one that needs to be respected.
Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 2005; 26(6): 445-468