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The morality of coercion
  1. Shimon M Glick
  1. Ben Gurion University, Beer Sheva, Israel


    The author congratulates Dr Brian Hurwitz, who recently reported the successful “intimidation” of an elderly competent widow into accepting badly needed therapy for a huge ulcerated carcinoma. He reports approvingly of the Israeli Patients' Rights Law, enacted in 1996, which demands detailed informed consent from competent patients before permitting treatment. But the law also provides an escape clause which permits coercing a competent patient into accepting life-saving therapy if an ethics committee feels that if treatment is imposed the patient will give his/her consent retroactively. He suggests this approach as an appropriate middle road between overbearing paternalism and untrammelled autonomy.

    • Autonomy
    • informed consent
    • coercion
    • patient rights

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    • Shimon M Glick, MD, is Chairman of the Moshe Prywes Center for Medical Education, Ben Gurion University, Beer Sheva, Israel.

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