Patients’ autonomy – just a thought Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Respect for patients’ autonomy keeps healthy boundaries between patients and the cosmetic dentist. It highlights the importance of providing patient education and counsel without attempting to manipulate patients for dentists’ benefit. In any health care setting there must be respect for patients’ autonomy. It is a principle that refers to the patient’s right to choose or decline a recommendation without pressure. Patients should be able to make decisions for themselves free from controlling influences. This means that a dentist should approach a discussion about a treatment plan by first educating the patient. Following the principle of respect for patients’ autonomy, the dentist then should encourage the patient to consider this information carefully and offer to answer questions, with the ultimate goal of helping the patient to making an informed health care decision regarding her teeth.

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