Health Care Analysis

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 374–392 | Cite as

Free Choice and Patient Best Interests

Original Article

Abstract

In medical practice, the doctrine of informed consent is generally understood to have priority over the medical practitioner’s duty of care to her patient. A common consequentialist argument for the prioritisation of informed consent above the duty of care involves the claim that respect for a patient’s free choice is the best way of protecting that patient’s best interests; since the patient has a special expertise over her values and preferences regarding non-medical goods she is ideally placed to make a decision that will protect her interests. In this paper I argue against two consequentialist justifications for a blanket prioritisation of informed consent over the duty of care by considering cases in which patients have imperfect access to their overall best interests. Furthermore, I argue that there are cases where the mere presentation of choice under the doctrine of informed consent is detrimental to patient best interests. I end the paper by considering more nuanced approaches to resolving the conflict between informed consent and the duty of care and consider the option of permitting patients to waive informed consent.

Keywords

Best interests Duty of care Free choice Informed consent Patient harm 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyCentral European UniversityBudapestHungary

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