Medical Ethics and Autonomy
The term autonomy is derived from the Greek autos, which means self and from the term nomos meaning rule, governance or law. To be autonomous is to be self-determined and to be in control of one's life. In regards to medical care, being autonomous refers to one making a decision regarding personal medical care issues for his or her self.
Autonomy focuses on respecting the ability of a person to make health care decisions on their own. It is much more complex than considering who is in charge or who knows best the real issue is which of the basic ethical principals hold superiority in any given situation.
Religion is a reason for society trying to infringe upon one's right to choose. An example of this is with the Jehovah's Witness religion. The Witness religion has been an ongoing dilemma for many years. When it comes to receiving blood, or a blood born agent, they refuse the treatment regardless of the circumstances.
The Jehovah's Witness believe that the blood will poison their bodies from purity; this in turn would prevent them from going to heaven. A Jehovah's Witness may often consent to other forms of treatment to preserve life. A Witness will also sign a consent, which directs the medical provider to not administer blood under ay circumstances.
Often, the refusal of blood transfusions can result in the need for intensive care. Such additional treatment can also lead to more expensive treatment, a longer hospital stay, or could even result in the death of the patient.
There have been a number of cases presented to the court system over the refusal of blood treatment. The question we must ask is can the court system or even a physician paternalistically know what risks are in the best...