Limits of the Principle of Autonomy

Subject: Healthcare Research
Pages: 1
Words: 264
Reading time:
< 1 min

Autonomy refers to the ability to rule oneself and turns out to be a principle of biomedical ethics that claims that patients have a right freely to choose the best option for their health. It means that a patient can decline a certain form of treatment prescribed by a doctor. Doctors should refrain from influencing patients’ decisions regarding medical treatment. Many doctors feel that they are to intervene in case the patients are not fully aware of their conditions. For instance, a medic can encourage a cancer patient to undergo chemotherapy. A patient may not fully understand that full-blown cancer is incurable, and a doctor should come up with an explanation for this. The doctor may also consult colleagues regarding the issue without causing a breach of confidentiality between doctor and patient.

This principle does not guarantee that people will not harm themselves. Indeed, patients have a right to determine the course of their treatment as well as life in general. However, a doctor’s intervention is vital in sustaining a person’s health at times as, being a professional in medicine, he/she knows the right time, course, and medication for treatment. Thus, patients should not harm themselves by opposing treatment simply because they have a right to decide what would be better for them. Similarly, no one should use this principle to do something harmful. Sometimes, doctors are blamed for negligence, in case a patient dies. However, no doctor should be blamed if the patient died due to his/her own intervention in the case.