Essay heading: Paternalism versus Autonomy

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October 23, 1998






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In other words, the doctor must completely inform the patient, to the best of his ability, about everything; risks, procedures, situations, and allows patient to ask questions about any and/or all of these. But this standard still has the constraints that were listed earlier, you can "inform" a patient as much as possible, but if they aren't competent enough to comprehend the information or are being pressured into making decisions, then the questions must be asked: is it truly an autonomous decision? And is it even possible to not be "constrained?" In the end, some form of paternalistic action, with a respect to autonomy of the patient (who fits the criteria of a competent and non-constrained person), seems to be the best choice...
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In most cases, given the fact that the doctor informs his patient, the doctor usually knows best. Even when the doctor knows the best, it doesn't always mean he should act on it. Other things become involved in the patients' decision making, such as Religious beliefs, cultural background, or tradition...
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