Therapy, Enhancement, and Medicine: Challenges for the Doctor–Patient Relationship and Patient Safety

Journal of Business Ethics 146 (4):831-844 (2017)
James Delaney
Niagara University
There are ethical guidelines that form the foundation of the traditional doctor–patient relationship in medicine. Health care providers are under special obligations to their patients. These include obligations to disclose information, to propose alternative treatments that allow patients to make decisions based on their own values, and to have special concern for patients’ best interests. Furthermore, patients know that these obligations exist and so come to their physicians with a significant level of trust. In this sense, therapeutic medicine significantly differs from straightforward business practices such as the buying and selling of houses, cars, cell phones, etc. However, we argue that this relationship differs when medicine is used for enhancement rather than therapy. When patients seek enhancements they are not as vulnerable as when they are ill. And in an enhancement setting, physicians have little role outside of medical risks to discuss motivation and alternatives. Therefore, we conclude that a more reasonable alternative may be for doctors and patients to use ethical norms associated more with straightforward business practices, specifically sales. We believe that full disclosure of this different set of norms will benefit both physicians and patients.
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DOI 10.1007/s10551-016-3042-9
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References found in this work BETA

Principles of Biomedical Ethics.Tom L. Beauchamp - 1979 - Oxford University Press.
Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
Autonomy and Trust in Bioethics.Onora O'Neill - 2002 - Cambridge University Press.

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