Ethical Issues: Treating Patients Without Permission
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Medical ethics is grounded by the notion that we must always respect the patient's right of self determination, which means that we should inform patients about what needs to be done and seek permission before doing it to them. But, what about those situations when consent is unobtainable, or when the patient wants something done that may be unnecessary or unreasonably harmful to them or to others? The tenets of medicine inform us that if action is needed but consent cannot be obtained, such as in an emergency, there is a presumption that the patient or victim would want us to treat them as long as the intervention is rational and not unduly risky.