Monday, 15 February 2010

Can deceiving patients be morally acceptable?

I went to the Osler Club at the RCP last week expecting to hear Iain Hutchison speak on 'What is a surgeon in the 21st century?'. He didn't turn up and so Dr. Daniel Sokol stepped in. He gave an excellent talk on truth telling in medicine. Is it acceptable to lie to or deceive patients? The answer is: sometimes. For those of you unsure of when to deceive your patients he has published a very helpful flow chart in the BMJ! Check it out here.

He presented some cases, one of which was surgical. I was the only surgeon in the room and seemed to take an opposing view everyone else. The average age of the audience was somewhere over 60 years which probably explained the paternalistic views of those present.

Danial Sokol writes as 'Ethics Man' in the BMJ. A collection of his musings are available on his website.

For those of you interested in the history of medicine the Osler Club is worth exploring. The website is terrible but the dinners are good.

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