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ETHICS IN MEDICINE   University of Washington School of Medicine

Physician-Patient Relationship:
Case 1 Discussion

Since this patient could rationally discuss her treatment options and her reasons for declining therapy, she could not be considered incompetent. Respect for autonomy is a central principle of bioethics, and it takes precedence in this case. Although the principle of beneficence could be used to argue for coercion towards treatment, compliance may be better improved by providing an ongoing partnership with the patient. Maintaining a therapeutic relationship with ongoing dialogue is more likely to provide this patient with the eventual ability to pursue therapy.
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