What is it about?
Ethics is an important concept in healthcare. Autonomy is one of the four ethical principles which enables a patient to be involved in their own decision-making and care. A barrier of autonomy is that is can cause conflict with a healthcare professional when they are trying to perform their duty of care. As seen in this case study where an autonomous patient is refusing life-saving treatment from a paramedic. The patient is well within her right to refuse treatment, which is supported by law. This can understandably leave the paramedic feeling anxious and vulnerable around their professional duty of care.
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Why is it important?
An understanding on medical ethics, especially autonomy allows a professional’s decision making process. If a professional has underpinning knowledge of autonomy and how it is underpinned by law, they will be able to solve problems they may arise in their practice. It also enables a professional to understand from the patients perspective as to why they may want to refuse treatment.
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This page is a summary of: Respecting an autonomous decision to refuse life-saving treatment: a case study, Journal of Paramedic Practice, August 2020, Mark Allen Group,
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