Ethics. Research. Community.

Practice guidelines, patient interests, and risky procedures.

[Record Source: PubMed]
A clinical scenario is described where an anaesthetist is concerned about the seemingly high risk/benefit ratio relating to laparoscopic versus standard inguinal hernia operations. Some options for further action by the anaesthetist are introduced. The remainder of the paper explores the question of who can legitimately assess the acceptability of risk/benefit ratios, and defends the use of practice guidelines at the expense of so called clinical freedom. It is argued that respect for persons is not breached by limiting the treatment options offered to patients to those therapies which have a 'reasonable' risk/benefit ratio. This 'reasonableness' is context dependent, and should be properly decided by those with expertise in the field.
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