Volume 23, Number 4, Winter 2012
When Negative Rights Become Positive Entitlements: Complicity, Conscience, and Caregiving
Andrew G. Shuman, Adam A. Khan, Jeffrey S. Moyer, Mark E. Prince, and Joseph J. Fins
The Journal of Clinical Ethics 23, no. 4 (Winter 2012): 308-15.
Clinicians have an obligation to ensure that patients with adequate capacity can make autonomous decisions. Thus, patients who choose to forego treatment and leave hospitals “against medical advice” are typically allowed to do so. But what happens when they require clinicians’ assistance to physically leave? Is it incumbent upon clinicians to not only respect and fulfill patients’ requests with which they disagree, but to physically assist in their fulfillment? We attempt to develop an ethical framework wherein clinicians can honor patients’ wishes without necessarily sacrificing their own moral position.