The choice of medical treatment: the right of every patient

The Spanish constitution protects the rights of patients in their choice of medical treatment.

To what extent a patient has the right to choose their own treatment in case of illness?
Should a judge to intervene in such matters?
What is more important than life or liberty?

Although they seem easy answers, a few years ago I had the opportunity to follow closely the case of a very close family who had to make an important decision regarding a treatment the doctor surgeon suggested due to a fibroid that should be removed in surgery.

The case

MMF, an adult had to be admitted to the hospital Virgen de la Salud de Toledo, due to bleeding that was undergoing regularly due to a submucosal fibroid, that the location in the uterus produces this pathology. The situation needed immediate attention because the patient due to bleeding in pain, was very weak and with a significant anemia. At the time of admission hemoglobin was 8, five days after 6.

When it came time to talk with the medical team on the surgical procedure and risks that this implied, MMF he notified his medical team, with the surgeon who would perform the procedure in the lead, she was willing to work with all the medical team to rule, but with the exception of blood transfusions. She, like Jehovah's Witness who refused to wear this type of therapy in case of need because of their moral and religious convictions. He requested that before this event the need for blood transfusion alternative therapies were used (saline, erythropoietin, etc.). With which she disagreed. That is, she refused, not all treatment for their plight, but a part of treatment if necessary and suggested alternatives.

The medical team argued with her about the situation in which it was and that due to anemia and the only possible further bleeding during the surgery his life could be in danger. The numerous occasions tried to convince for the need to give them authorization to use blood transfusions during the operation if it became necessary.

M.M.F. I deeply appreciated the interest the medical team was having with her, but reminded them that she was entitled to choose the most appropriate treatment that he believed in his case, even collaborate with the medical team in everything available, however, it related to blood transfusions could not accept due to their deep moral and religious convictions. Also told them your questions or concerns about this type of therapy because of potential dangers that may result from blood transfusions (viral infections, HIV, decreased ability of the immune system, etc.). As has repeatedly been demonstrated. (See article "Erythrocyte two two after the extraction.)

M.M.F. told them that she understood his position and he understands that for doctors to save life is a priority, but told them that if their position had complications in the surgery she's written exonerated from any responsibility for the only responsible for the consequences it was negative. Moreover, in view of the limited partnership and harassment that are subjected them said it was willing to give him the high, if they saw fit, and would seek more cooperative other medical equipment. They refused.

As you can imagine there was a tug of war between them. Since the position of M.M.F. was adamant on this point and was of age, the medical team was faced with a dilemma: "We continue respecting patient rights to choice of treatment or reject the case and is another team doctor, who accepts the principles of patient, perform the operation without the use of blood?

It seems that these two positions were the most logical, but no, everything suddenly took an unexpected turn.

Related topics:
- Should a judge decide what medical treatment should we follow? Part 2
- Respect for patient autonomy. Part 3

*Automatic Translation