Informed consent

Marina Kwak
Charade or Choice


RESEARCH in brief

The most important doctrine, in both medical ethics and health law, is the doctrine of informed consent, also known as informed choice. Trust is essential in a patient-physician relationship: even courts describe it as a “fiduciary” relationship in which patient must trust the physician to honestly present treatment options and their benefits and risks. However, the patient-physician relationship envisioned by the doctrine is much more complex due to two basic reasons: 1) this doctrine was seen by physicians as a requirement being imposed on the profession from the outside and 2) having conversations about treatment options are difficult. Informed consent has historically been described as critical in theory but was incapable of being translated into practice -  it was viewed as a superficial charade rather than an autonomous choice. This gap should encourage us to reform healthcare practice to ensure that informed choice upholds patient dignity, promotes rational decision-making and protects self-determination of patients.

Annas, G.J. (2017). “Informed Consent: Charade or Choice?” The Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics.

  • Marina Kwak

Image source: Wellcome Images.