Patients who challenge.
Ward M., Savulescu J.
Individuals have different values. They seek to express their individuality even when receiving medical care. It is a part of modern medical practice and respect for patient autonomy to show respect for different values. We give an account of what it means to respect different values and challenging patients in medical practice. Challenging choices are often choices which are perceived by many to be either irrational or against a person's interests, such as engaging in harmful or excessively risky activities. When the medical profession is involved in such choices, the basic medical principle of acting in a person's best interests is challenged. Often doctors refuse to respect controversial choices on paternalistic grounds. We should all respect and facilitate the controversial choices of competent individuals, subject to resource limitations, our own and others well-being and autonomy, and the public interest. But more importantly, sometimes such choices make for a better, more autonomous life. Sometimes, such choices reflect considerations of global well-being or altruism, or idiosyncratic attitudes to risk. Sometimes, they reflect unusual values. However, in some other cases, controversial choices are irrational and are not expressions of our autonomy. Doctors should assist patients to make rational if individual choices. The patient also bears the responsibility for bringing his beliefs to the attention of the clinician.