Not Telling the Truth in the Patient-Physician Relationship
DaSilva, Carlos Henrique Martins
Cunha, Renato Luiz Guerino
Tonaco, Ronaldo Borges
Cunha, Thulio Marquez
Diniz, Ana Carolina Boaventura
Domingos, Gustavo Gontijo
Silva, Juliana Diniz
Santos, Marcelo Vitral Vitorino
Antoun, Melissa Ganam
de Paula, Rodrigo Lobato
Bioethics 2003 October; 17(5-6): 417-424
The presence of truth and honesty is a permanent demand, and becomes vital the more committed and intimate a relationship is. Medical practice is relevant to this discussion when one questions whether or not a physician should always tell their patient the truth in the face of a progressive or potentially fatal disease, regarding their diagnosis, outcome, therapy and evolution of the specific disease. From this discussion we aim, with the present report, to look at the truth applicable to the patient-physician relationship, and its ethical and moral implications; and also to look at where the Brazilian Code of Medical Ethics (BCME) and the medical literature stand regarding this issue. One concludes that there are only two moments not to tell a patient the truth: when the patient does not want to be informed, and when the truth could be iatrogenic. The question now is, when would the truth be iatrogenic? Physicians, in our opinion, would not be able to judge solitarily when the truth might be deleterious to their patient. Alternatively, we proposed the appointment of a multidisciplinary commission to help the doctor with such a decision.
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