In their short essay "Lying for the Patient's Good"
(2004;86:187-8), Capozzi and
Rhodes present the case of a man with a torn medial meniscus who initially
reports that he injured the knee at work. However, on further questioning, it
seems unlikely that the injury occurred on the job. The patient then explains
that he has no health insurance and explicitly asks the physician to report
the injury as being work-related so that Workers' Compensation will cover the
cost of treatment.Capozzi and Rhodes review the reasons that patients ask physicians to
deceive third parties for the patients' good, and they argue cogently that the
overall harms of deception generally outweigh the benefits in such situations.
However, their conclusion is puzzling. In the last paragraph, the authors note
that the hypothetical patient "does have a medical need that requires
attention," and they make the following recommendation to the
hypothetical physician: "In this case... with regard to an account of
where and when the injury occurred, the physician can state, `According to the
patient...,' thus providing an honest report of the description of the injury
as presented by the patient."