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3 - Informed refusal – the Jehovah’s Witness patient

from 1 - Consent and refusal

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 March 2012

Gail A. Van Norman
Affiliation:
University of Washington
Stephen Jackson
Affiliation:
Good Samaritan Hospital, San Jose
Stanley H. Rosenbaum
Affiliation:
Yale University School of Medicine
Susan K. Palmer
Affiliation:
Oregon Anesthesiology Group
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Summary

This chapter presents a case study of a 41-year-old female with hepatitis C cirrhosis complicated by hepato-pulmonary syndrome. Adults with appropriate decision-making capacity express their autonomy through the informed consent process. Physicians demonstrate respect for the autonomy of competent patients by accepting their informed decisions, whether or not they consent to medical treatment. Key questions arise in most cases involving Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs) and others who refuse certain types of treatment on religious or other grounds. Due to strongly-held beliefs, most practicing JWs patients refuse transfusion of blood and many blood products. Respect for patient autonomy is the primary ethical principle applied in the United States, while the principle of beneficence is more strongly held in many other countries. Respect for autonomy supports the concept that adult, competent patients have the right to refuse blood transfusions, as well as any other therapy.
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Clinical Ethics in Anesthesiology
A Case-Based Textbook
, pp. 19 - 26
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

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