Physician autonomy or discrimination: the risks and limits of saying “no”
Most physicians are well practiced in respecting patient autonomy but less knowledgeable about the limits of their own autonomy in clinical decision-making.
VOLUME 115, ISSUE 2, P263-267
Judith Daar, J.D.
Respect for patient autonomy is a critical concept in the training of all physicians. Most physicians will make clinical recommendations on a daily basis that reflect a marriage of evidence-based medical fact and the deeply felt aspirations and boundaries that patients share with them. While most physicians are well versed and comfortable managing issues of patient autonomy, many are less confident about ethical and legal guidelines for expressing their own autonomy in clinical decision-making. This paper will review the legal landscape surrounding the patient-physician relationship with a focus on when and how physicians can exercise their personal and professional autonomy in their clinical practice.