AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Journal of Ethics Header

AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Virtual Mentor. August 2009, Volume 11, Number 8.

Ethics Poll

Respecting Autonomy

The Ethics Poll is a snapshot of the opinions of interested readers.

The Food and Drug Administration exempts some emergency room research from the requirement of informed consent if, (1) the patient has a life-threatening illness or injury and is not able to give informed consent, (2) the research has definite benefit for society, (3) the research has potential benefit for the patient, (4) the investigators carry out public disclosure and community consultation and offer the community the opportunity to opt out. Do you think emergency room research should be allowed to proceed under these provisions?
Some claim that the informed-consent process "backfires." These critics argue that, without the formal consent process to protect them, physicians would actually be more thorough in their discussion of the risks and benefits of medical interventions and more diligent in ensuring that patients understood exactly what they were consenting to or refusing. Do you agree with this critique?
Many of the laws, regulations, and ethical guidelines that govern informed consent and patient decision making in the U.S. derive from our nation's emphasis on individual liberty and rights. Often, however, hospitals and health care teams encounter competent patients or their self-selected surrogates who value the well-being of family, community, country, or soul above the individual rights of the patient When this happens, U.S. hospital policies and health care teams:
Poll results reflect the opinions of visitors to the site who voluntarily answer the poll questions. Those visitors do not represent a random sample of our readers. The viewpoints expressed on this site are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.