Lying is generally wrong. However, lying becomes acceptable when the said act will be done for the welfare of a person or to maintain the person’s emotional and psychological well being. To most of us, there is nothing wrong about lying when it is done with good intentions such as shielding a person from reality about the condition of his heath. Hence, there is a perennial debate on whether lying with good intentions should be an acceptable practice in the medical profession.
It is a very hard task for medical practitioners to tell to their patients the real status of their health particularly those who are already terminally ill. The most common reaction of these people is to be depressed about their conditions which will certainly affect their whole being. They will feel hopeless about their conditions which becomes a serious hindrance in their treatment and recovery.
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Although truthfulness and honesty are fundamental values that are being observed in the medical profession, sometimes, medical practitioners are forced to lie when the safety and health of an individual lies in their hand. For the wellbeing of the patients, most medical professionals opt to control the amount of information that they present to patients. Despite the professional code of conduct that these medical practitioners are bound to observe, there is no clear and exact rule on lying and honesty, and doctors and nurses cannot be held accountable if in their discretion to lie to their patients.
It is worthy to note that despite the acceptability of lying for a cause, certain limitation should be observed to ensure that lying will not be out of control. Lying to patients even for a cause should not be left to the sound discretion of the medical practitioners. Concrete boundaries should be prescribed and it should be clear to a medical professional the only instances where he is allowed to lie and the extent of lying that he should follow. Anything beyond those parameters and against the established rules on lying should be unethical. Unfortunately, most codes of conduct of medical professionals around the world do not presently address and thoroughly discuss the parameters to be observed in the medical profession with respect to lying to patients.
Although lying with good intentions does not create a significant threat on the trust relationship between doctor and patient, and is generally acceptable, the limitations and the extent of lying should be clearly defined and implemented among medical professionals. The lives of their patients depend on them and their professional expertise, hence, their conduct, actions and behaviour towards their patients should be with utmost diligence.
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