"When Bian Que Meets the Duke Huan of Cai": Ethical Reflections on a Legend
Keywords:扁鵲, 蔡桓公, 知情同意, 醫患關係, 醫學倫理
LANGUAGE NOTE | Document text in Chinese; abstract also in English.
Bian Que is the earliest known Chinese physician of the Pre-Qin era (ca. 700 B.C.E), whose name is often associated with physicians of the highest medical caliber. One legend tells of how when Bian Que was in the feudal state of Cai, he visited the Lord Huan and told him that he had a serious disease. The Lord Huan thought Bian Que was trying to profit from the fears of his patients and declined the offer for treatment. Eventually, Lord Huan’s condition got worse. The last time Bian Que went to see Lord Huan, he knew that the lord would soon die and escaped from the state. This essay considers the ethical implications of the legend, such as the moral duty of the physician and the nature of the physician-patient relationship. Did Bian Que violate informed consent when he failed to tell the lord he would die of the disease if not treated immediately? The author concludes that the role of physician in ancient China was quite different from what one sees today. Thus, modern ideas and concepts such as informed consent and the language of rights cannot be applied to the case of Bian Que.
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Copyright (c) 2012 International Journal of Chinese & Comparative Philosophy of Medicine
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