Original Publication
Open Access

Informed Consent, Autonomy, and the Death of Therapeutic Privilege: Clinical, Bioethical, and Legal Perspectives

Published: February 25, 2008 | 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.758

Included in this publication:

  • Informed Consent Instructors Guide.doc
  • Doyle Informed Consent 002.doc
  • Informed Consent 4 More Cases.doc
  • Informed Consent MCQ Assessment Questions.doc
  • References.doc
  • MCQs.ppt
  • Four More Cases.ppt

To view all publication components, extract (i.e., unzip) them from the downloaded .zip file.

Editor's Note: This publication predates our implementation of the Educational Summary Report in 2016 and thus displays a different format than newer publications.


This case-based educational module is intended to introduce medical students to some of the central issues in medical ethics. The module begins with four clinical cases for the students to consider. This is followed by an introduction to the principles of medical ethics as well as some relevant case law. The four cases are then discussed from the perspective of the various principles and legal cases provided. The central objective of the module is to introduce students to the concepts of informed consent, patient autonomy, and therapeutic privilege through a discussion of the clinical scenarios. This resource was developed as a supplement to classroom and one-on-one teaching of ethical issues to medical students and residents at the Cleveland Clinic. This educational resource is not without potential limitations. First, it casts issues in a traditional western ethical framework that may be inappropriate for some cultures where the concept of personal autonomy is not emphasized. Second, at least to a limited extent, it inevitably reflects my own personal views and biases accumulated over two decades of clinical practice.

Educational Objectives

By the end of this module, the learner will be able to:

  1. Understand the concepts of informed consent, patient autonomy, and therapeutic privilege through a discussion of four clinical scenarios.
  2. Understand four important ethical principles: autonomy, beneficence, justice, and non-malfeasance.

Author Information

  • John Doyle, MD, PhD, FRCPC: Cleveland Clinic

None to report.

None to report.


Doyle J. Informed consent, autonomy, and the death of therapeutic privilege: clinical, bioethical, and legal perspectives. MedEdPORTAL. 2008;4:758. https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.758