The Principles of Beneficence and
'Primum non nocere; above all ... do no harm'.
—A fundamental medical principle (from the Hippocratic Oath; see Appendix B.)
As we have seen in earlier examples, the Principle of Autonomy is not the only principle appealed to in health care decisions. Appeals are also made to the Principles of Beneficence and Non-maleficence (see 12.1.2, 15.3.1, 15.3.2, 15.3.3). The following example provides an illustration of all these principles at work.
There is a new drug which should give an excellent chance of remission for an individual who has leukaemia. However, this drug has not yet been evaluated over the long term so that there might be the risk of, as yet unknown, harmful side-effects. The consultant considers that the new drug should be prescribed. Discussion about the possibility of risks should be omitted on the grounds that the individual would