Reuters reported on February 7, 2007 on a survey reported in the Febuary 8, 2007 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine which found that a sizable minority of physicians would not inform patients or refer patients to other physicians for legal treatment options to which they object on moral grounds.
A substantial minority of doctors do not feel obligated to inform their patients about medical procedures that they themselves object to on moral or religious grounds, or to refer patients to another doctor for the treatment, according to a survey of U.S. physicians.
I professionally believe that these are sins of omission and that ethical practice should require physicians and other health care providers to provide information to patients so that can make informed health care decisions.
The findings of this survey seem to indicate that patients should inquire about their health care providers moral beliefs to that they can determine whether their provider's advice and information is trustworthy and unbiased.
Curlin and colleagues say patients who want information about legal but morally controversial treatments may need to inquire proactively to determine whether their doctor would accommodate such requests.
"I hope this paper fosters frank, respectful conversations between doctors and patients," Curlin told Reuters Health, in an effort to anticipate areas of moral disagreement and to negotiate acceptable accommodations before crises develop.