Protecting the vulnerable: autonomy and consent in health care

New York: Routledge (1991)
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Abstract

Protecting the Vulnerable explores the reality of patient control and choice in health care and analyzes how decisions should be made on behalf of those deemed incapable of making decisions. The contributors, distinguished experts from the disciplines of medicine, ethics, theology, and law, look at the complex problem of autonomy and consent in health care and clinical research today from an illuminating perspective--its impact on the vulnerable members of society. The essays move from the exploration of lingering paternalism in health care to the acute dilemma of treatment of and research on newborn babies. In covering both general and specific problems the collection reveals how exploitation can occur when the right of autonomy is eroded and where informed consent is illusory. Particularly vulnerable groups, such as children and people with mental handicaps, are discussed alongside cases where the vulnerability is itself an issue. Other areas covered include: `gesture' suicides, the practical problems of doctors in dealing with dependent patients, and the limits of proxy consent. All health care professionals, ethicists, policy makers, and lawyers currently engaged in the study or practice of health care ethics will find Protecting the Vulnerable to be a vital source of information for many years to come.

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