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Title: Should the radiologist tell?
Author: Moseley, I. F.
Awarding Body: University College of Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 1995
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Using the example of two patients' asking radiologists to give the results of unfavourable examinations just carried out, I question whether they should speak frankly in these circumstances. From a utilitarian viewpoint I discuss veracity, obligations to speak candidly and prohibitions of deception, arguing that such moral rules are contingent, not absolute. I may justly withhold information to protect an innocent third party; it may not be wrong to do so when that person is the one from whom information is withheld. I discuss whether doctors have a particular obligation to be truthful with patients, concluding that their obligation is to act for the best; if tact is in the patient's interest, any obligation of veracity may be overridden. To trust someone means assuming they protect one's interests, not that they necessarily act in specific ways. I review research indicating that not all patients wish to be given bad news. I note that when patients have false beliefs which appears medically beneficial, or when one wishes to inculcate hope, people who advocate candour may (inconsistently) become more equivocal. In examine the relationships and responsibilities of the members of the health care team in such matters. Seeing this as an example of the tension between (paternalistic) exercise of beneficence and respect for autonomy, I argue that autonomy is simply one instrumental good and that others may take precedence should the patient's interests require it. I claim that, while it is desirable that people indicate their wishes, to accede to them when this significantly harmful or imprudent is morally irresponsible, particularly should the individual not have exercised ideal deliberation. I also argue that to insist upon a putative "right to know", when this is harmful, is irrational. The answers to my question should reflect the way we wish to live together.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available