Ethics - Clinical relationship

From CambridgeNotes

Truthfulness: why?

  • Autonomy: current clinical practice depends on obtaining patients making decisions (compare with ‘paternalism’) and this requires disclosure of information
  • Trust: honesty essential if patient is to trust the individual and profession as a whole
  • Summary: almost always tell truth

The whole truth?

  • Does disclosure mean the whole truth? Autonomists say yes but…
  • Other ethical principles are important including do good, do no harm, and justice e.g. suicidal patient
  • Some patients may not want the whole truth (particularly true in certain cultures)
  • Summary: clinical judgment and good communication necessary to decide how much to disclose, when and where, and to whom etc.

Non-disclosure versus lying

  • Not disclosing truth may be permissible but outright lying is never acceptable