Right to Know in Japan
Lancet. 1989 Jul 15; 2(8655): 173.
A Japanese government task force on the treatment of dying patients has issued recommendations that challenge Japan's medical traditions. The task force's report calls for telling patients the truth about their conditions. Japanese physicians consider themselves to be the primary decision makers about what and how much patients are told. Disagreements over care between physicians and patients and their families rarely reach Japanese courts, and the recent Makino case, involving a doctor's failure to disclose medical information needed for an informed patient decision, is unusual. The task force recommendations may affect both the outcome of the Makino decision on appeal and physicians' future actions. A lower court held that Mrs. Makino's physician was not liable for his patient's death after she refused surgery for what she had been told were gallstones, but what the doctor suspected was cancer. (KIE abstract)