Autonomy in medicine

Health problems often require radical decisions, which patients should make for themselves to the greatest extent possible. Along with justice and beneficence, autonomy is one of the central principles of medical ethics.

Making an autonomous decision is often overwhelming or almost impossible for patients, for example in emergencies or in the case of minors. Furthermore, knowing where to draw the line between people capable of making autonomous decisions and those who (temporarily) lack this ability presents medical professionals with great challenges, the major issue being the assessment of the patient’s capacity to make decisions.


In addition to its contributions to the discussion of patient autonomy in society as a whole, the SAMS engages with delicate ethical matters and aspects that are difficult to put into practice in this area on behalf of doctors, nursing professionals and other health-care professionals.



lic. iur. Michelle Salathé
Head Department Ethics