Professional Recommendations: Disclosing Facts and Values

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Professional-Patient Relations, Informed Consent, Truth Disclosure, Ethics, Medical Choices, Medical Advice


It is not unusual for patients and their families, when confronted with difficult medical choices, to ask their physicians for advice. This paper outlines the shades of meaning of two questions frequently put to physicians: "What should I do?" and "What would you do?" It is argued that these are not questions about objective matters of fact. Hence, any response to such questions requires an understanding, appreciation, and disclosure of the personal context and values that inform the recommendation. A framework for considering and articulating a response to these questions is suggested, using as a heuristic the phrasing "If I were you.../If it were me..."