Doctors' dilemma - medical treatment versus personal beliefs
5 Dec 2013
An AMA Position Statement on Conscientious Objection 2013 was released by the AMA last week.
Key recommendations of the Position Statement include:
- a doctor should always provide treatment in an emergency situation, even if that treatment conflicts with the doctor's personal beliefs and values;
- a doctor who makes a conscientious objection to providing, or participating, in certain treatments or procedures should make every effort to minimise the disruption in the delivery of health care and ensuing burden on colleagues;
- if a doctor has a conscientious objection, they should inform their patient of the objection, preferably in advance; inform them they have a right to see another doctor, being satisfied the patient has sufficient information to enable them to exercise that right; and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the patient's access to care is not impeded;
- doctors should treat patients with respect and dignity, even if objecting to the treatment or procedure;
- a doctor with a conscientious objection should not be discriminated against; and
- a competent patient's informed refusal to a particular treatment or procedure, even if based on their own conscientious objection, should be respected.