Patient Autonomy Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1416 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 13  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Healthcare

" What distinguishes "choice" from mere appetite or desire is deliberation upon known, available options and their probable consequences, and a practical equilibrium of external pressures for and against those options.

Bradley, Gerard V. (1989)

Informed consent' is often a cause of dissention and ambiguous interpretations of 'patient autonomy." It should be made clear that informed decision-making is included as a necessary and implied part of the definition of patient autonomy in the present argument and that patient autonomy does not mean careless and uninstructed freedom.

In another sense informed content impacts on the present discussion in that informed content should be provided by the practitioner in order that the patient may exercise his or her personal choice. This bears on the fact that communication between the patient and the doctor or practitioner should be understandable and honest - with every effort made to enlighten the patient as to his or her options.

Even when patients have been informed of the possible consequences of medical intervention, they may not adequately understand what is involved. Natural intelligence, level of education, and vocabulary all may limit the patient's comprehension. To meet this problem, physicians try to put informed consent into "plain" English. Medical terminology is replaced by lay expressions in the hope of truly informing the patient... The requirement for informed consent is not satisfied by merely recounting risks and benefits to a patient, but by doing so in a way that is intelligible to a particular patient in view of his individual capacities. (Gunn, Albert E., 1991)

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This point leads to the second imperative in this paper, namely that patient autonomy is also intended to create and enforce healthy communication between patient and health practitioner. Patients who are supplied with information and details about medical issues can avoid the possible fallacy of therapeutic privilege. This refers to instances "when a doctor decides for a seemingly capable patient that it is in the patient's best interests not to know certain information..." (Doing Right, 79) (Iatus, A. 2002)

Term Paper on Patient Autonomy the Concept of Assignment

An example of this fact is revealed in a 1961 study where "88% of doctors routinely would not tell terminally ill cancer patients that they had cancer." (ibid) As medical science becomes more and more scientifically daunting, and more doctors become wary of litigation, so the relationship in terms of communication and contact between the patient and practitioner becomes more distant and tenuous. The issue of patient autonomy is a means of enforcing and opening the communication channels between the two parties and allowing for a more healthy and interactive process.

In conclusion, the above argument hopefully shows that patient autonomy is both an ethical right and a practical necessity in the contemporary medical world. There are many models aimed at ensuring that patient autonomy does not infringe on medical professionalism. One of these is the concept of "enhanced autonomy" which facilitates an interactive and mutually beneficial relationship between patient and doctor or practitioner. Albeit, the point is that patient autonomy should be sacrosanct due to the fact that it benefits not only both the patient and the medical practitioner, but also the medical environment and its functionality.


Bernstein Maurice, (2004) Social/Political Paternalism vs. Patient Autonomy.

Retrieved October 4, 2004 from Bioethics Discussion Blog: Web site:

Bradley, Gerard V. (1989). "Does autonomy require informed and specific

Refusal of life-sustaining medical treatment." Issues in Law & Medicine, December 22, 1989. Czaplyski, Larry. (2002)

Clear communication is the key to informed consent: Physicians must find balance between paternalistic decision making and patient autonomy. Urology Times; (4/1/2002);

Gunn, Albert E. (1991) Risk-benefit ratio: the soft underbelly of patient autonomy.

Issues in Law & Medicine, September 22,

Healthcare Ethics (2004)

Retrieved October 4, 2004 from Ascension Health.

Website: latus, A. (2002) Autonomy & Paternalism. Accessed on October 4, 2004. Web site.

MedicineNet: Patient autonomy Retrieved October 4, 2004. Web site:

See: Physician Recommendations and Patient Autonomy: Finding a Balance between Physician Power and Patient Choice -- Quill and Brody 125 (9): 763 -- Annals of Internal Medicine URL: [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Patient Autonomy" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Patient Autonomy.  (2004, October 5).  Retrieved September 27, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Patient Autonomy."  5 October 2004.  Web.  27 September 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Patient Autonomy."  October 5, 2004.  Accessed September 27, 2020.