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Patients' wants versus patients' interests.
  1. J Wilson

    Abstract

    Should we treat other people according to what they want (their own values), or according to what we take their best interests to be? If they have given us no mandate to decide for them, their values should prevail. This applies not only to allowing but also to assisting them to get what they want. Taking this seriously in medical practice involves a lot of communication between doctor and patient, and a lot of research to establish a typology of patients in respect of their wants. The results would seriously affect doctor-patient relationships and the organisation of general practice and hospital care. It is with this, rather than dramatic 'moral problems', that medical ethics should be chiefly concerned.

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