Anne Barnhill, “Clinical Use of Placebos: Still the Physician's Prerogative?”
Clinical Use of Placebos: Still the Physician's Prerogative?
Article first published online: 23 APR 2012
© 2012 by The Hastings Center
Hastings Center Report
Volume 42, Issue 3, pages 29–37, May-June 2012
How to Cite
Barnhill, A. (2012), Clinical Use of Placebos: Still the Physician's Prerogative?. Hastings Center Report, 42: 29–37. doi: 10.1002/hast.33
- Issue published online: 3 MAY 2012
- Article first published online: 23 APR 2012
The American Medical Association's Code of Ethics prohibits physicians from giving substances they believe are placebos to their patients unless the patient is informed of and agrees to use of the substance. Various questions surround the AMA policy, however. One of these has to do with what should be disclosed. The AMA holds that any treatment that the physician believes is a placebo should be identified as such to the patient. But consider a more restrictive policy that requires physicians to defer to the medical community's consensus view about which treatments have a specific effect on the condition being treated. In light of the ethical goals that the AMA identifies—namely, concerns about patient trust, autonomy, and benefit—there are potential advantages to the more restrictive policy.