A refusal to receive medical treatment is not always a bad decision. Some treatments might help a person recover faster, but sometimes they may only relieve symptoms. The benefits of a treatment depend on the condition and the patient’s priorities. This article explains how to give informed consent to medical treatment, and when a refusal to receive medical treatment is the best option. The following are some other important situations where refusing medical treatment might be an ethical decision.
Many people do not accept medical treatment for high blood pressure because of side effects. While a physician may explain how important treating high blood pressure is to reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and kidney failure, patients must make the final decision. After all, the physician can only tell them about the side effects, but it is ultimately up to the patient to choose the right treatment. By understanding the risks and side effects of treatment, many people may choose to accept the risk of undergoing treatment.
The public is split over whether they would ask doctors to end a medical treatment if the patient were dying. Three-quarters of white mainline Protestants, Catholics, and evangelical Protestants say that sometimes it’s OK to end a patient’s life. Only one-third of religiously unaffiliated people say that they would not ask a physician to end a patient’s life. But more people are expressing their opinions on the topic today than they did in the 1990s.
Some of the most common examples of medical treatments are suturing wounds, removing dead skin, and examining a fracture. Nonprescription medication of prescription strength, including antibiotics, is considered medical treatment. The same is true for devices that have rigid stays and are designed to immobilize parts of the body. Other treatments, such as chiropractic care and physical therapy, may also be medical treatments. Whether it’s a tetanus shot or a flu shot, these procedures are generally considered to be medical treatments.
Despite the fact that end-of-life medical treatment is an extremely controversial topic, public attitudes regarding it have been shaped by a wide range of social and religious factors. Pew Research Center’s End-of-Life Study tracked public attitudes on these issues for decades, starting with a survey in 1990 and followed up in 2005. Since the Terri Schiavo case drew national attention, the Pew Research Center has been tracking public attitudes towards end-of-life medical treatment.
The majority of the general public has had experience with end-of-life medical treatment issues at least once. Nearly half of adults have had a close family member who was suffering from a life-threatening illness. Another 23% of U.S. adults report considering withholding life-sustaining treatment. Overall, 37 percent of Americans have given end-of-life medical treatment some serious thought. This is a significant increase from the year 1990 when only 28 percent of adults had considered the issue.