Intended for healthcare professionals

Views And Reviews Primary Colour

Helen Salisbury: Battening down the hatches for a second wave

BMJ 2020; 369 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m2076 (Published 27 May 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;369:m2076

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  1. Helen Salisbury, GP
  1. Oxford
  1. helen.salisbury{at}phc.ox.ac.uk
    Follow Helen on Twitter: @HelenRSalisbury

Autonomy is one of the four pillars of Western medical ethics. People have a right to make their own decisions about what treatment to accept, as long as they have capacity to do so.1 My patients can—and often do—stop taking the tablets I prescribe for their diabetes or hypertension, refuse surgery that could be curative, and ignore advice about alcohol, exercise, or smoking. It’s my job to provide—accurately, clearly, and to the best of my knowledge—the information on which to base their decisions, and it’s their right to ignore it.

Infectious diseases are an exception to the rules …

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