Ethics, Prevention, and Public Health

By Angus Dawson; Marcel Verweij | Go to book overview

12
Informed Consent
and the Expansion of Newborn
Screening1

Niels Nijsingh

The moral acceptability and justifiability of a medical procedure seems partly dependent on whether informed consent has been attained. In many situations it is clear why this is so. There is near consensus that patients should have a say in whether to undergo surgery, particularly if there are alternatives available and when there are clear advantages and disadvantages to the different options. It is generally conceded that patients should be in a position to weigh what is important to them. Furthermore, informed consent is undisputedly an effective way to prevent abuse and exploitation of patients, for example in the context of medical research.2

It is tempting to assume that the requirement for informed consent should stretch out over the entire medical domain, so that it would include not only medical research and clinical encounters, but also screening for disease. In this chapter I will look at the requirement for informed consent in

1 This chapter greatly benefited from the helpful suggestions of Ainsley Newson, Marcus
Duwell, Paul Sollie, and Annemarie Kalis. Particular thanks are owed to Marcel Verweij and
Angus Dawson for many helpful comments.

2 However, some, such as Garrard and Dawson (2005) argue that there are limits here.

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