“Clinical” Surgical Ethics

Peter Angelos

The Journal of Clinical Ethics 30, no. 1 (Spring 2019): 49-55.


The practice of surgery requires consideration of a number of specific aspects of clinical medical ethics that are different from those most influential in other areas of medical care. The nature of surgical care alters the sense of responsibility that surgeons feel for their actions and also alters the relationship between surgeons and patients. Because surgical care requires patients to place such great trust in their surgeons, surgical informed consent must emphasize the importance of that trust. Surgeons must use innovative means to solve individual patient problems even if the result is a novel operation. Surgical procedures may be altered due to the unexpected findings in the operating room and therefore surgeons must have considered how to respond in such situations. The future of surgical practice will inevitably lead to increasing ethical concerns in maintaining the ethical dimension of surgery, in allowing autonomy for trainees while maintaining patients’ safety, and in balancing surgical risks of prophylactic surgery with the genetic predisposition to develop cancer.




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