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This is only a rough draft of what I had started on And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free John 832 Why warn at all The first issue of concern here is the possibility of a preventable medical error occurring namely that a patient could have a diagnosed disease and not be aware of it The central ethical question in this case pertains to the duty to warn The attending presumably agrees that the patient has a right to know about her diagnosis but also believes that because a the patient probably already knows of the diagnosis and b there is no established relationship with the patient that there is no duty to warn I disagree with this reasoning because I see little harm in telling the patient that she may have syphilis whereas I can see great potential harm in not telling her I believe there is a duty to warn irrespective of whose patient Mrs Scott is If the patient already knows she has syphilis I doubt she will be upset at having someone go to the trouble of contacting her to make sure she knows In fact I think it more likely that she will be appreciative knowing that someone was paying such attention to her health an action based on the ethical principle of beneficence However if she does not know of her syphilis withholding that information could delay potentially beneficial treatment until someone else makes the diagnosis This is essentially contradictory to the ethical principal of non-maleficence do no harm because withholding the diagnosis could do harm if it delays treatment In regard to whether a duty to warn actually exists in this case I think it does According to Opinion 812 Patient Information of the AMAs Code of Medical Ethics Patients have a right to know their past and present medical status and to be free of any mistaken beliefs
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