Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 30 (2):167 – 188 (2005)
This article examines the ethical basis for the patient's duty to adhere to the physician's treatment prescriptions. The article argues that patients have a moral duty to adhere to the physician's treatment prescriptions, once they have accepted treatment. Since patients still retain the right to refuse medical treatment, their duty to adhere to treatment prescriptions is a prima facie duty, which can be overridden by their other ethical duties. However, patients do not have the right to refuse to adhere to treatment prescriptions if their non-adherence poses a significant threat to other people. This paper also discusses the use of written agreements between physicians and patients as a strategy for promoting patient adherence.
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