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November 2015

The Ethics of Disclosure and Counseling of Patients With Thyroid Cancer

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock
  • 2MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, Department of Surgery, The University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Sciences, Chicago, Illinois
JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2015;141(11):957-958. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2015.2419

The ethical basis for the interactions between physicians and patients is primarily grounded in the principles of beneficence and respect for persons. Beneficence emphasizes the importance of acting in such a way that patients will benefit from the interaction. The principle of beneficence is central to patients’ expectations of their physicians. Patients expect that their physicians will make recommendations that are in the patient's best interests rather than primarily in the physicians’ best interests. In previous generations, physicians were given wide latitude to make choices on behalf of their patients because, based on their education and experience, they were optimally suited to decide what was the medically optimal treatment. Patients held their physicians in high regard for those reasons as well as their status in society. This paternalistic approach to medical decision-making has, in recent decades with a growth of potential conflicts of interest, been tempered by a realization that the best interest of a patient may not always be solely grounded in the medical facts.1