Beneficence and informed consent
The principle of beneficence is a term associated with a physician’s duty to “do good to others and avoid doing them any harm” (Vaughn 10). This principle promotes patient welfare, and is consistent with respecting the patient’s autonomy, or capacity for self-determination. This means that doctors must always strive to help the patient and avoid causing them any damage, while simultaneously allowing them to make their own decisions concerning their treatment. If a physician does not provide full disclosure of the procedure, risks, and alternatives to a patient then they are severely violating the principle of beneficence.
In the case of “Jane Doe”, a kidney transplant patient, complete disclosure of risks about her procedure was not given. This failure to inform the patient led to her contracting not only hepatitis, but also HIV. The report claims, “Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network in Elmhurst and the University of Chicago both knew the kidney donor was high-risk and did not inform the patient” (Vaughn 152). The physicians did not inform her of the risks of her new kidney transplant. Without this knowledge, Jane Doe gave what she believed was her informed consent for the surgery, which consequently violated her right to self-determination and did her extreme harm rather than good. She never had the chance to explore other options, because she was misinformed about her donor from the start.
In addition to hiding risks from the patient, physicians gave her little alternative to her procedure. She knew she did not want a high risk donor, in fact she had “previously rejected another donor “because of his lifestyle”’(Vaughn 152). Clearly Jane Doe was exercising her autonomous right to decline this kidney, as she thought accepting that kidney may cause her more harm than good. Physicians were aware of her caution in accepting a donor, yet they told her that this high-risk donor “was a healthy young man” (Vaughn 152)....