Therapeutic Privilege: If, When, and How to Lie to Patients
Therapeutic privilege is the concept that physicians may sometimes lie to or consciously deceive patients for the patients’ own good. While well-established in many other cultures and even early Twentieth century medicine, the concept runs counter to established contemporary American medical ethics. Specifically, further a patient’s autonomy requires that they are appropriately informed; being informed requires knowing the truth. In many cases, the potential benefits of therapeutic privilege can be captured by telling patients the truth in a thoughtful and sensitive manner.
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