Telling the Truth and Medical Ethics
BMJ (British Medical Journal). 1985 Nov 30; 291(6508): 1556-1557.
Gillon discusses the conflicting moral implications of the principles of respect for autonomy and of beneficence and non-maleficence when telling patients the truth about their illnesses and treatments. The case for nondisclosure is usually based on three major arguments: that doctors' Hippocratic obligations to benefit and not harm their patients take precedence over not deceiving them; that the range of possible conditions and prognoses makes it difficult for physicians to know the full truth or for patients to comprehend it; and that patients do not wish to be told dire news. Gillon rejects each of these arguments, contending that avoiding deceit is a basic moral norm that can be defended from utilitarian as well as deontological points of view. With regard to the argument concerning patient attitudes, he recommends that pilot studies be done, asking patients what their preferences are at the time they register with a doctor or hospital. (KIE abstract)
Attitudes; Autonomy; Beneficence; Cancer; Deception; Diagnosis; Disclosure; Doctors; Ethical Theory; Ethics; Harm; Medical Ethics; Moral Policy; Paternalism; Patient Care; Patient Participation; Patients; Physician Patient Relationship; Physicians; Prognosis; Risks and Benefits; Terminally Ill; Truth Disclosure; Utilitarianism;
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