On Wish-Fulfilling Medicine

“Wishing on risks.” By Jane McCredie, MJA Insight.

WHAT’S a doctor to do when a patient wants something that is not clinically indicated? Getting out the liquid nitrogen to remove an unsightly skin blemish during a routine GP visit might seem harmless enough, but what about prescribing beta-blockers to help manage exam nerves or agreeing to a request for a total body scan? A group of Dutch ethicists has done some fascinating qualitative research into the opinions doctors and patients hold about what they call “wish-fulfilling medicine” — that is, a medical service provided to satisfy a patient’s non-medical desire. “Wish-fulfilling medicine focuses on the grey area of medical practice where the boundaries of medicine are changing due to patients’ wishes and advances in medical technology.”

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Source: Asscher, Eva C. A.; Bolt, Ineke; Schermer, Maartje. 2012. “Wish-fulfilling medicine in practice: a qualitative study of physician arguments.” Journal of Medical Ethics, Vol. 38 Issue 6, pp. 327-31.

 

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