Additionally, the otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeon should apprise the patient that if he should change his mind about an interventional therapy at any point along the course of his disease, he would be reassessed promptly to determine what therapy, if any, might be possible.
Explore This IssueJanuary 2014
It is very important ethically that the otolaryngologist not abandon the patient, even though he or she has made a personal health decision different from what the otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeon feels would be in the patient’s best interest. This addresses the delicate balance of autonomy (patient self-determination), beneficence (do good for the patient), and non-maleficence (avoid harm to the patient). As physicians, we feel drawn to beneficence and non-maleficence, but we are at least equally obligated to honor and respect patient autonomy.
The key to successfully navigating this ethical dilemma to the patient’s best benefit requires applying the physician virtues and duties of compassion, empathy, honesty, understanding, communication, and prudence.