Asian Bioethics Review

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 67–73 | Cite as

Presenters or Patients? A Crucial Distinction in Individual Health Assessments

  • G. Owen SchaeferEmail author


Individual health assessments (IHAs) for asymptomatic individuals provide a challenge to traditional distinctions between patient care and non-medical practice. They may involve undue radiation exposure, lead to false positives, and involve high out-of-pocket costs for recipients. A recent paper (Journal of the American College of Radiology 13(12): 1447–1457.e1, 2016) has criticised the use of IHAs and argued that recipients should be classified as ‘presenters’, not ‘patients’, to distinguish it from regular medical care. I critique this classificatory move, on two grounds: one, it is conceptually suspect. Two, it obviates the medical ethics framework for IHAs, potentially exposing recipients of IHAs to lower standards of oversight and protection. Responsible regulation of IHAs will be easier to ethically justify if those seeking IHAs are considered patients and not merely presenters.


Individual health assessments Asymptomatic screening Computed tomography Medical language Medical ethics 


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Copyright information

© National University of Singapore and Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Biomedical EthicsYong Loo Lin School of MedicineNational University of SingaporeSingapore

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