Should Doctors be the Judges of Our Well Being? (by Marnie Foster)

[ By on May 15, 2017 ]

The Doctrine of Informed Consent was a law passed in order to give patients more autonomy over their body and treatment. It requires doctors to inform patients of risks of a recommended procedure before the patient decides whether or not to allow the doctor to carry out the procedure. While the doctors are considered experts of their “medical well being,” the patient is best suited to make decisions for the “overall well being” which is why it is the patient that has the final say. While this is the case in some branches of our healthcare system, the prescription drug system is designed to promote a patient’s health, but not necessarily their well being. Therefore, this system contradicts this justification that patients are in a better position to outweigh the risks and benefits of consenting to a treatment therefore choosing to go through with it or not. Many drugs that require a prescription have the potential to better the well being of others, although people may not necessarily need it. This is similar to cosmetic surgery, which is also at odds with informed consent. Most of the time, these procedures don’t have any medical benefit for the patient, but the patient is still given the decision to go through with the procedure weighing the risks and the benefits. Shouldn’t the prescription system be treated the same? Should we allow people more autonomy and authority over their well being or is it the duty of medical professionals to prevent and assess the risks of certain medicines based on their expertise?


Three arguments against prescription requirements
Do We Have the Right to Use Drugs?

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4 Comments on “Should Doctors be the Judges of Our Well Being? (by Marnie Foster)”

  1. KNF

    Kelley Nicholson-Flynn

    [ May 16, 2017 at 4:09 pm ]

    Do you think there are any limitations to informed consent? What about a young patient? One in pain or distress? How do your responses to those questions inform your thoughts about whether the patient is always the best judge?

    Also, where does medical expertise come in?

  2. KNF

    Emily Schorr Lesnick

    [ May 17, 2017 at 1:09 pm ]

    Marnie, you raise some important questions about bodily autonomy and the power that doctors are given as “experts.” I am reminded of a blog post I read that explored the tensions between healthcare providers and fat patients, and how the language of “health” can be so nebulous. Here it is: It’d be interested to hear your thoughts!

  3. KNF

    I would be interested to hear your thoughts on where the overuse/misuse of antibiotics falls in this argument, particularly when there are consequences for society as a whole, not just for the individual patient.

  4. KNF

    You touch upon cases where a person’s own well-being and what is good for a group may be different– =how would something like vaccines fit into your analysis? Should patients be able to make choices on these when herd immunity is so important? Shouldn’t there be some consideration of the good of the whole? yet don’t there need to be limits on this too, as we have seen abuses in the past (I’m thinking about forced sterilization of criminals, etc)

Hi Stranger, reply with your thoughts:

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