The Ethical Dilemma of Truth-Telling in Healthcare in China

Abstract

Truth-telling is often regarded as a challenge in Chinese medical practices given the amount of clinical and ethical controversies it may raise. This study sets to collect and synthesize relevant ethical evidence of the current situation in mainland China, thereby providing corresponding guidance for medical practices. This study looks into the ethical issues on the basis of the philosophy of deontology and utilitarianism and the ethical principles of veracity, autonomy, beneficence, and nonmaleficence. Chinese philosophy, context and culture are also discussed to provide some suggestions for decision-making about disclosure in a medical setting. This study holds that, in order to respect the basic rights to which critically ill patients are entitled, decisions regarding truth-telling and their implementation should be carried out with thorough consideration, which can be achieved by critical thinking, well-developed and effective communication skills, the consideration of cultural context, an understanding of individual differences, and compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

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Correspondence to Xiaoyan Min.

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Zhang, Z., Min, X. The Ethical Dilemma of Truth-Telling in Healthcare in China. Bioethical Inquiry 17, 337–344 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11673-020-09979-6

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Keywords

  • Truth-telling
  • Ethics
  • Healthcare
  • China