AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Journal of Ethics Header

AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Virtual Mentor. January 2005, Volume 7, Number 1.

Module 2

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Case 2.2: Disclosure and Patient Information—Mr. Douglas's Angiogram Gets a Second Look

Option Assessment

A.  

Following Dr. Kim's advice that no further action is needed should be avoided because it would violate Opinion 8.12, "Patient Information," which states: "[A physician's] ethical responsibility includes informing patients of changes in their diagnoses resulting from retrospective review of test results...This obligation holds even though the patient's medical treatment or therapeutic options may not be altered."

B.  

Contacting Mr. Douglas directly is acceptable and is supported by the Code in Opinion 8.12, "Patient Information," which states : "[A physician's] ethical responsibility includes informing patients of changes in their diagnoses resulting from retrospective review of test results...This obligation holds even though the patient's medical treatment or therapeutic options may not be altered." This obligation, however, must be balanced with Dr. Carslon's intrusion into Dr. Kim's and Mr. Douglas's relationship.

C.  

Informing Dr. Kim that if he does not inform Mr. Douglas, then Dr. Carlson will feel obligated to do so is preferable. This will respect Dr. Kim's relationship with Mr. Douglas but also make it clear that, one way or another, Dr. Carlson will fulfill his "ethical responsibility [that] includes informing patients of changes in their diagnoses resulting from retrospective review of test results...even though the patient's medical treatment or therapeutic options may not be altered" (from Opinion 8.12, "Patient Information").

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