When is a Painkiller Not a Painkiller? A Patient's Right To Choose
Posted Aug 25 2008 3:17pm
Most patients trust their doctors. If prescribed a treatment, therapy or drug, many would not question the necessity, or authenticity of the physician's advice or prescribing strategy.
Indeed. In a study published this month in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, of 466 physicians surveyed at medical schools in the Chicago-area, 45% admitted to prescribing placebos to patients without the patient's knowledge, a practice striking at the very heart of Western medical ethics: informed consent.
Even more startling, one in five doctors admitted to actually lying to patients, claiming the placebos were medication, in clear violation of American Medical Association (AMA) guidelines, which directs its members to use placebos only if the patient is aware of and agrees to it.
Perhaps some might argue that the issue is not that significant--since placebos are viewed as harmless--but just how important is it? Particularly in terms of the doctor-patient relationship? Others might argue it raises major trust issues, and even a violation of patient rights.