Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Patient Rights vs. Doctor Rights

A patient's right to refuse treatment and a patient's right to demand treatment are two very separate concepts. It is akin to comparing a passenger's right to refuse to risk flying in a 'safe' plane with a pilot's right to refuse to risk flying an improperly prepared aircraft even if the passenger demands it.

There are two kinds of medically"unsafe procedures." - 1)the procedure which inherently is associated with a high mortality rate, and 2)the procedure associated with a low mortality rate, but becoming high risk without the available preoperative data required for a successful outcome.

The patient is free to seek other opinions, but has limited right to the performance of unsafe interventions. There is a difference between the two forms of so-called unsafe interventions. The patient may be justified in demanding a procedure that is highly risky, if this is the only available procedure, and can not be safely carried out under any circumstances. But no patient can demand that a physician transform a low-risk procedure into a high-risk procedure by prohibiting him from obtaining the necessary pre-operative information.

In the days prior to modern non-interventional forms of cardiac diagnosis, angiograms, using catheters inserted into the heart, were required for accurate diagnosis of a major cardiac abnormality. No surgeon could be persuaded to operate on a patient (except perhaps in a dire emergency) unless he were satisfied that all the required prereqeuisite knowledge was available in order to safely proceed

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