Doctors should respect patients' decisions

While I respect Dr Yik Keng Yeong's view as a medical professional, it must be noted that not all decisions made by doctors are right ("Doctors have duty to stop patients from making misinformed choices"; Nov 9).

Hence, it behoves a patient to seek a second opinion if he has doubts about the doctor's advice.

Obtaining informed consent before treating a patient is a legal and ethical necessity. It is derived from the principle of autonomy, which is a pillar of medical ethics.

Touching or treating a patient without permission could be considered assault or battery under criminal and civil law, even if the person was helped by the doctor's actions.

Doctors do sometimes prescribe placebos, which help the patient, as long as he is not told of the fake treatment.

A patient's spiritual beliefs about the meaning of life must not be written off, even if it goes against medical convictions.

A late friend of mine suffered from diabetes and had one leg amputated. But he had the last laugh when he outlived his three doctors.

When all is said and done, doctors should respect the decisions of their patients, no matter how unsound or irrational these may seem.

Heng Cho Choon

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