Moral obligations of patients: A clinical view

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 30 (2):139 – 152 (2005)
After a unilateral focus on medical professional obligations to patients in most of the 20th century, there is a growing, if modest, interest in patient responsibility. This article critiques some public assertions, explores the ethics literature, and attempts to find some consensus and moral grounds for positions taken on the question, "Does a patient have moral obligations in the process of interactions with medical and other professional caregivers?" There is widespread agreement on a few responsibilities, such as "truth telling" and "avoiding harm to others," but no apparent consensus either on the list of duties or on the appropriate justification for such duties. The context and clinical realities of patient interactions are noted to suggest that feasibility is important in making judgments of patient obligations.
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