Patient Decisions

In my short 3 weeks as a resident, I have seen some incredibly tough decisions that have needed to be made.  Some of the toughest being, whether or not to operate on a patient, and watching families decide whether or not it’s the right time to stop trying to save their loved one and provide them with a comfortable death. It’s widely known and aggressively taught (at least at my medical school) that three ethical principles are important when speaking with patients, autonomy, beneficence, and non-maleficence.

 

Autonomy, the principle that recognizes that patients should make their own decisions.  This is the most ethical thing to do according to our teachings. But is it the correct thing?  Two Ted talks I have seen question the current practice of autonomy as it is in current medical practice.  Should patients be required to make every single medical decision?  Or should they be given the option to let the medical team make some of the decisions?

 

Reference:

1. Baba Shiv: Sometimes it’s good to give up the driver’s seat

2. Sheena Lyengar: The art of choosing