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 Comparison

Given the clear obligation to provide patients with accurate information about their medical condition, option A (choosing not to inform Mr. Douglas) should be avoided because it violates the demands of the Code in Opinion 8.12, "Patient Information." Even though Dr. Carlson does not have an existing relationship with Mr. Douglas, he has an obligation (as does Scott) to make sure Mr. Douglas is apprised of his medical condition.

Option B (contacting Mr. Douglas) is an acceptable alternative because it fulfills Dr. Carlson's obligation to Mr. Douglas, but it may undermine the trust between Dr. Kim and Mr. Douglas. To help preserve the trust in their relationship, option C is the preferable alternative. It allows Dr. Kim the opportunity to inform Mr. Douglas of the new diagnosis himself, but makes clear that the ethical obligation to inform Mr. Douglas of the diagnostic error will be fulfilled regardless.

Preferable: Option C

Acceptable: Option B

Avoid: Option A

Additional discussion and information

The people and events in this case are fictional. Resemblance to real events or to names of people, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. The viewpoints expressed on this site are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.