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Should we have a right to refuse diagnostics and treatment planning by artificial intelligence?


Should we be allowed to refuse any involvement of artificial intelligence (AI) technology in diagnosis and treatment planning? This is the relevant question posed by Ploug and Holm in a recent article in Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy. In this article, I adhere to their conclusions, but not necessarily to the rationale that supports them. First, I argue that the idea that we should recognize this right on the basis of a rational interest defence is not plausible, unless we are willing to judge each patient’s ideology or religion. Instead, I consider that the right must be recognized by virtue of values such as social pluralism or individual autonomy. Second, I point out that the scope of such a right should be limited at least under three circumstances: (1) if it is against a physician’s obligation to not cause unnecessary harm to a patient or to not provide futile treatment, (2) in cases where the costs of implementing this right are too high, or (3) if recognizing the right would deprive other patients of their own rights to adequate health care.

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Iñigo de Miguel Beriain’s work was supported by the Government of the Basque Country, Grant IT-1066-16 and the EU Commission, H2020 SWAFS Programme, PANELFIT Project, research Grant Number 788039.

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Correspondence to Iñigo de Miguel Beriain.

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de Miguel Beriain, I. Should we have a right to refuse diagnostics and treatment planning by artificial intelligence?. Med Health Care and Philos 23, 247–252 (2020).

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  • Artificial intelligence
  • Right to refuse treatment
  • Health care
  • Patients autonomy