Justification for requiring disclosure of diagnoses and prognoses to dying patients in saudi medical settings: a Maqasid Al-Shariah-based Islamic bioethics approach

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Abstract

Background: In Saudi clinical settings, benevolent family care that reflects strongly held sociocultural values is commonly used to justify overriding respect for patient autonomy. Because the welfare of individuals is commonly regarded as inseparable from the welfare of their family as a whole, these values are widely believed to obligate the family to protect the welfare of its members by, for example, giving the family authority over what healthcare practitioners disclose to patients about their diagnoses and prognoses and preventing them from making informed decisions about their healthcare. Discussion: Family dominance over the healthcare decisions of competent patients is ethically problematic when the family prevent healthcare practitioners from disclosing diagnoses and prognoses to patients who have the capacity to consent and make decisions in their own best interests. Thus, the author holds that sociocultural values ought to be respected only when they do not prevent competent patients from knowing their diagnoses and prognoses or prevent them from making their own decisions. Conclusion: Healthcare practitioners should not allow patients’ families to control what can or cannot be disclosed to competent patients. This is particularly important when patients are approaching death so that they may address their material and spiritual wishes—among other needs—as they prepare for death. Justification for this position is drawn from the Maqasid Al-Shariah-based Islamic bioethics approach, from which it is possible to argue that the harm of withholding diagnoses and prognoses from patients who are imminently dying outweighs the potential benefits.

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APA

Alfahmi, M. Z. (2022). Justification for requiring disclosure of diagnoses and prognoses to dying patients in saudi medical settings: a Maqasid Al-Shariah-based Islamic bioethics approach. BMC Medical Ethics, 23(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12910-022-00808-6

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