Strengths and limitations of considering patients as ethics 'actors' equal to doctors: reflections on the patients' position in a French clinical ethics consultation setting

Clinical Ethics 4 (3):152-155 (2009)

The Clinical ethics centre in Paris offers its services equally to doctors and patients/proxies. Its primary goal is to re-equilibrate doctor–patient roles through giving greater voice to patients individually in medical decisions. Patients are present at virtually all levels, initiating consults, providing their point of view and receiving feedback. The implications of patients' involvement are threefold. At an operational level, decision-making is facilitated by repositioning the debate on ethical grounds and introducing a dynamic of decisional partnership, although contact with patients can make it difficult to deny their demands and set the limits of our role. Ethically, it reinforces patients' autonomy and grants them a place of veritable ethics ‘actors’, with the danger that this may become excessively autonomy oriented. Finally, at a collective level, the programme fulfils its political purpose in promoting patients' rights and the ideal of démocratie sanitaire, but complicates balancing individual demands with collective values
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DOI 10.1258/ce.2009.009021
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