The Limits of Patient Autonomy

Dalrymple describes the apparently successful program of compulsory application of an anti-parasite drug to new American immigrants, in discussing the difficult balance between patient autonomy and medical paternalism, at Pajamas Media:
Circumstances, then, alter both medical conduct and ethics.
Of course, 16 percent of the refugees given the drug benefited from it, in that their worms were eliminated and infestations are deleterious for health. Moreover, there would have been possible public health benefits to the administration as well, because people who do not have worms cannot spread them to others.
It is difficult to work oneself into a lather of indignation about the whole business; but from the point of view of medical ethics, the paper is certainly not without theoretical interest.

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