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Respecting patient autonomy and obtaining their informed consent: ethical theory—missing in action

Abstract

The legal and ethical requirement to obtain a patient's informed or valid consent to treatment is founded on the philosophical theory of patient autonomy. This paper discusses this theory and its application to informed consent in the biomedical literature. The paper then reviews physiotherapy ethical knowledge by examining how the physiotherapy ethical literature has discussed the philosophical theory of autonomy and related it to the obligation to obtain a patient's consent to treatment. The review concludes that the physiotherapy-based discussion of the ethical theory of autonomy as it relates to the duty to obtain valid consent emphasises prescriptive compliance with duty and is comparatively undertheorised. A hypothetical case study is used to highlight the difference between an ethical approach to obtaining consent that explicitly uses the theory of autonomy and an approach that relies on compliance with duties.

Cite this article

Respecting patient autonomy and obtaining their informed consent: ethical theory—missing in action Clare M. Delany Physiotherapy - December 2005 (Vol. 91, Issue 4, Pages 197-203, DOI: 10.1016/j.physio.2005.05.002)

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