Autonomy, Consent, and Limiting Healthcare Costs
Journal of Medical Ethics 2005 July; 31(7): 424-426
While protection of autonomy is crucial to the practice of medicine, there is the persistent risk of a disconnect between the notion of self-determination and the need for a socially responsible medical system. An example of unbridled autonomy is the preferential use of costly medications without an appreciation of the impact of using these more expensive drugs on the resource pool of others. In the USA, costly medications of questionable incremental benefit are frequently prescribed with the complicity of both doctors and patients. Limiting self-determination in medication choices via an appreciation of the principle of justice reaches a better moral balance, while at the same time acknowledging the goals of doing good and avoiding harm in patient care.
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