Should Doctors Tell The Truth? Essay

907 words - 4 pages

There are a lot of moral problems in healthcare, one being truth-telling. It is highly believed that a doctor should tell his patient the truth, in order to respect the autonomy of the patient. However aren’t there some cases where telling the truth can proved to be harmful? Can we conceive a world where lying is not permitted? A study of Immanuel Kant’s arguments on truth-telling in general, then an analysis of Joseph Collin’s ideas on truth-telling in healthcare might help us have a better understanding of the different questions that emerge from this problem.
Kant defends the principle that we should never lie, even if our doing so could prevent a death. He believes the expression ...view middle of the document...

However, he mainly focuses on those who do not want the truth because of the fear of being injured. He gives the example of a man who found hope because he had been told the truth partially, and of another man who died just two months after the whole truth about his health was revealed to him, to show that sometime patients would be better off if they aren’t told the truth. He believes that lying as a form of art contributes to the success of the physician’s mission of salvation and mercy (607). For him there is no reason to tell a patient the whole truth unless it too obvious and the diagnosis is final (608). In addition, he thinks that physician should behave more like counselors and detectives rather than like jurors and judges (609).
Collins’ presentation is more convincing because he appeals to the humanitarian side of people. Collins notes in his essay that he wants to be pragmatic and not take the subject on a moral standpoint. Kant is stricter on the subject and he discusses his ideas on only one ground and from the strict idea that lying is wrong in every situation. Because he is stricter, people might find it harder to relate to his arguments and examples. Even some doctors who believe that lying to a patient is wrong find hard to do so when facing certain situations. For instance, researchers from the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston created a survey based on the Charter on Medical Professionalism, a widely accepted code of professional behavior that upholds patient autonomy and the crucial role of physician honesty and...

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