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Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine (IBME)

Shared decision making: patients have a right to be informed about possible treatment options and their risks and benefits

Ana Rosca, Tanja Krones and Nikola Biller-Andorno published in Swiss Medical Weekly a viewpoint on shared decision making. 



Historically, physicians liked to refer to the so-called therapeutic privilege when withholding information they considered too distressing for their patients. A broad interpretation of this principle allowed physicians to inform or not inform patients at their discretion. These days are long gone. The therapeutic privilege is explicitly rejected by organisations such as the American Medical Association. The code of the Swiss Medical Association emphasises the duty to inform patients, although it still leaves some room for interpretation as to how much information physicians think their patients can bear and how their patients should best be informed.


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