- Pepperday, Cody A
- Area of Honors:
- Bachelor of Arts
- Document Type:
- Thesis Supervisors:
- Emily Rolfe Grosholz, Thesis Supervisor
Vincent M Colapietro, Honors Advisor
- Although tens of millions of healthy people in the United States of America seek medical care every year, few stop to think about what a privilege it is to have the ability to make autonomous medical decisions. Whether these decisions are made alone or with family advice, cognitively sound adults have the right to choose. Problems arise, however, when people who are not able to make their own decisions (children, intoxicated individuals, elderly adults, etc.) present for treatment. This essay, written from the perspective of a philosophically minded premedical student, seeks to discuss the right to medical decision making as it pertains to these people. It will examine autonomy, decision-making, and informed consent from a fundamental perspective as well the relationship between these processes and doctors, patients, and families. Overall, the mission is to answer questions such as: Who has the right to determine my healthcare? Who has the right to determine the healthcare of my children? How will my fate be determined when I am no longer able to decide for myself? The research culminates in a concise guide that physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals can use to structure discussions regarding patient autonomy and decision-making in American healthcare today.