A moral dilemma. A patient has aids; should the docter tel his wife or not?

Essay by thomas16crownHigh School, 11th gradeA+, May 2003

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A patient comes into the hospital to see his results from an AIDS test: his results are positive. The patient nervously confesses to the doctor that he did not contract this disease from his wife, but from another woman. His wife and the doctor are friends; they've been friends throughout school, and still maintain a good friendship; they occasionally get together or call each other for advice. The doctor never actually met her friend's husband in person but, after looking at his file, she notices his last name and phone number are the same as her dear friend's. The doctor then informs the client of her friendship with his wife. Should she tell the wife because he could pass this incurable disease to her? Or should she keep this information confidential because of her duty as a doctor? This situation creates a moral dilemma because, no matter what decision the doctor takes, it will oppose a belief.

In this scenario the patient is the client seeking the service of a doctor. Therefore, the doctor must take a course of action based on mutual agreement that will not violate their relationship. As a professional, her primary duty is to serve the client, which in this scenario is the patient with AIDS; so based on the value of confidentiality, the doctor should respect the patient's preferences, which is to keep this unknown.

However, her other obligation is to forewarn her friend that her husband has AIDS; this would prevent her from catching it and dying from this horrible disease. Therefore, if the doctor does not tell her, she compromises the health of her friend. But, if the doctor does tell her patient's wife she would completely compromises the patient's autonomy.

I believe that she should remain silent; if the doctor does...