Orthopaedic Ethics 4: Just say no: ethical considerations of patient care in the gray zone

"The ethical dimension of medicine is typically noticed only when a physician finds him or herself in a dilemma in which it is not obvious which of two treasured principles of professional ethics should be upheld and which should be sacrificed." In today's practice environment of share decision making and information availability, patients present to the orthopaedist with their own expectations of what their work up or treatment course should include. Gone are the paternalistic days when Marcus Welby, MD, could come into the room and put his hand on the patient's shoulder and tell the patient what should be done.

There is a line that the physician needs to draw when the patient insists on an alternative course of treatment.

Module content created by Nancy M. Cummings, MD of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Learning objectives for this Activity:

Explore the ethical challenges of disagreeing with a patient about his/her course of treatment

Define the obligation/role of the physician

Understand how gray areas can become black and white

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