Defining and delineating a duty to prognosticate

Ben A Rich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Prognostication, the process of formulating and communicating a prognosis, is no longer considered by most physicians to be an essential task in caring for patients with serious illness. Because of this fact, it is not surprising to find that when physicians attempt to engage in prognostication, they do it poorly. What may be surprising to those outside the medical community is the extent to which professional norms have developed which actively discourage physicians from engaging in prognostication. This article explores the causes of this state of affairs and the justifications offered for it. The conclusion is reached that physicians have a professional responsibility to competently engage in prognostication based upon the doctrine of informed consent, and that a failure or refusal to do so has not only potential legal ramifications, but serious negative implications for many of the core issues in bioethics, such as the use of advance directives, palliative medicine, and medical futility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-192
Number of pages16
JournalTheoretical Medicine and Bioethics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001


  • Advance directives
  • Curative model
  • Informed consent
  • Medical futility
  • Palliative model
  • Prognostication
  • Self-fulfilling prophecy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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