Free Choice and Patient Best Interests

Health Care Analysis 24 (4):374-392 (2016)
Emma Bullock
Central European University
In medical practice, the doctrine of informed consent is generally understood to have priority over the medical practitioner’s duty of care to her patient. A common consequentialist argument for the prioritisation of informed consent above the duty of care involves the claim that respect for a patient’s free choice is the best way of protecting that patient’s best interests; since the patient has a special expertise over her values and preferences regarding non-medical goods she is ideally placed to make a decision that will protect her interests. In this paper I argue against two consequentialist justifications for a blanket prioritisation of informed consent over the duty of care by considering cases in which patients have imperfect access to their overall best interests. Furthermore, I argue that there are cases where the mere presentation of choice under the doctrine of informed consent is detrimental to patient best interests. I end the paper by considering more nuanced approaches to resolving the conflict between informed consent and the duty of care and consider the option of permitting patients to waive informed consent.
Keywords Best interests  Duty of care  Free choice  Informed consent  Patient harm
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Reprint years 2016
DOI 10.1007/s10728-014-0281-8
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References found in this work BETA

Principles of Biomedical Ethics.Tom L. Beauchamp - 1979 - Oxford University Press.
Autonomy and Trust in Bioethics.Onora O'Neill - 2002 - Cambridge University Press.
Rethinking Informed Consent in Bioethics.Neil C. Manson - 2007 - Cambridge University Press.
The Silent World of Doctor and Patient.Jay Katz - 1984 - Johns Hopkins University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Mandatory Disclosure and Medical Paternalism.Emma Bullock - 2016 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (2):409-424.

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The Silent World of Doctor and Patient.Jay Katz - 1984 - Johns Hopkins University Press.


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