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Revista médica de Chile

Print version ISSN 0034-9887

Abstract

KOTTOW, Miguel. Informed consent in clinical practice: persistent doubts. Rev. méd. Chile [online]. 2016, vol.144, n.11, pp.1459-1463. ISSN 0034-9887.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0034-98872016001100012.

Informed consent is the core aspect of the patient-physician relationship. Since its beginnings, clinical bioethics was opposed to the authoritarian paternalism characteristic of medicine since the 19th century. The informed consent was developed to provide patients with sufficient information to allow autonomous decisions when faced with medical diagnostic and therapeutic alternatives. In spite of bioethics’ effort to perfect informed consent, the discipline has been unable to avoid informed consent from becoming an impersonal and administrative procedure. Even though the major goal of this procedure is to provide sufficient information to allow patients an objective weighting of benefits and risks of medical practice, the uncertainties of medicine make full disclosure unattainable. Collecting more information finally leads to indecision and ultimate trust in medical advice. The clinical encounter is fundamentally a fiduciary relationship, and bioethics ought to accept that its main objective is to strengthen the trust bond that is essential to the clinical encounter. This goal may become incompatible with the quest for unlimited autonomy. Patients often will only require information as long as they distrust that medical institutions and their professionals are considering their interests and needs. The main proposal of this article is to temper bioethics’ insistence on autonomy, and accept that patients essentially seek to be protected and cared for. Informed consent ought to relent its efforts at full autonomy to the benefit of trustworthiness in medicine, and trust in clinical practice.

Keywords : Bioethical issues; Consent Forms; Informed Consent; Personal Autonomy; Trust.

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