The physician's influence on informed consent for bone marrow transplantation

The influence of physician judgment on the disclosure, competency, understanding, voluntariness, and decision aspects of informed consent for bone marrow transplantation are described. Ethical conflicts which arise from the amount and complexity of the information to be disclosed and from the barriers of limited time, patient anxiety and lack of prior relationship between patient and physician are discussed. The role of the referring physician in the decision-making is considered. Special ethical issues which arise with use of healthy related bone marrow donors are discussed, as is the physician's discretion in raising questions of competency. It is concluded that in this setting, regardless of the theoretical goals of the physician, patients appear to utilize informed consent discussions to assess their capacity to trust the physician rather than as a time to weigh the large amount of relevant data. The conscientious physician best serves the patient with recommendation of the best medical alternative rather than with attempts to remain neutral.
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