Most Western European and North American social and medical systems operate under the primary ethical principle of autonomy. This principle allows the individual to determine the degree to which he or she will participate, or not, in any specific activity, including health care. For the patient to exercise autonomy, he or she must have a degree of understanding of his or her choices. Hence, medical providers have a subsidiary ‘‘duty to inform’’ the patient about possible diagnoses and obtain informed consent for performance of indicated tests. This allows the patient to consider a risk/benefit ratio meaningful to him or her.
The principle of autonomy and the duty to obtain informed consent are such commonplaces that the authors of that article didn’t even find it necessary to provide a citation: Rest. Obv.
How peculiar, then, that twelve years later one of the authors, Dr. Michael Parsa, should be sued for performing intrusive medical procedures on a patient against the patient’s express wishes.