Abstract 摘要

An informed consent document is vital for all surgical procedures and medical treatments. Proper documentation and counseling of patients is important for informed consent. Opinion polls conducted in this essay show that the majority of people in China today have accepted informed consent as a legally binding medical policy, yet they do not fully understand the ethical and legal connotations involved, particularly the idea of the patient’s autonomy. As a result, the patient’s own experience as a first-person narrative is often ignored and his/her subjectivity is blurred when his/her family’s subjectivity intervenes. According to the essay, the problem appears when liberalism—which emphasizes individual autonomy and rights—does not square with the Confucian tradition that emphasizes family as a coherent unit. The essay also points out that there is a huge difference in patients’ perceptions of “individual rights,” due to their different levels of education. The author argues that informed consent could be better practiced if both doctors and patients were “well informed” and understood the moral and legal implications of informed consent.