The Importance Of Autonomy In Health Care

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In the last several years, the physician-patient relationship has shifted dramatically from a less Hippocratic based paternalistic approach, to that of a relationship centered on respect for patient autonomy; this new approach integrated informed consent and shared decision making. Autonomy remains a much debated, but central idea in both western medicine and medical ethics. Autonomy for our purposes in medical ethics, can be defined as the right of competent adults to make informed decisions about their medical care. The debate ultimately surrounds what role patient autonomy should play in medicine. Some believe that patients should be seen as fully autonomous persons, as they know better than anyone else what is good or bad for them. While, …show more content…
Autonomy in health care operates under the understanding that patients are competent or of “sound mind”, have not been coerced into the decision they are choosing to make and overall are well informed prior to the decision. Essentially patients are free to use their autonomy to make decisions regarding their health based on informed consent, and those in the medical field are obligated to follow through regardless of their feelings on the matter. For example, Autonomy is central to the debate centering around euthanasia; as those who are advocates of euthanasia in health care argue that banning or prohibiting such an act, limits an individual’s choices, specifically, their choice as to how they will die and when they will die. Essentially the ban on euthanasia results in a limit on patient autonomy as a …show more content…
As I briefly stated above, paternalism in medicine was once the go to way of medical practice. Patients were not given an active role in their health care. As a result, the freedom of choice was restricted, on the basis that it was for their own wellbeing that their treatment be carried out according only to the physician’s wishes. Medical practice was not handled on a case by case regime as it is today, but instead was physician focused with little regard to the patient’s personal values outside of medicine. For example, Jehovah witnesses refuse to accept blood transfusions as a personal value, in the paternalistic view of medicine, little attention would be given to that value. All that would be focused on would be that the patient was in need of a blood

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