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AMA J Ethics. 2017 Sep 1;19(9):894-902. doi: 10.1001/journalofethics.2017.19.9.ecas3-1709.

How Should a Health Care Professional Respond to an Incarcerated Patient's Request for a Particular Treatment?

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An internal medicine physician and rural health fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
An internal medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and supervises an interdisciplinary student clinic in a jail, coordinates an academic-rural partnership, and practices primary care.


Incarceration complicates the ethical provision of clinical care through reduction in access to treatment modalities and institutional cultures that value order over autonomy. Correctional care clinicians should expand their guiding principles to consider autonomy and health justice for their patients, which in turn should prompt development of processes and care plans that are patient-centered and account for the inherent restrictions of the setting.

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