Proxy Decision Making in Suicidal Patients


  • Claire Junga Kim
  • Yoon Hee Choi
  • Hyun A Bae


Respecting patient’s autonomy and abiding by rules of confidentiality are both important in patient-physician relationships. However, balancing between these rules requires comprehensive assessment of other contextual factors, such as the patient’s best interest, his/her real intention, possible harms and suitability of proxy in case of the patient’s becoming unconscious. In this case, a 35-year-old female patient who attempted suicide asked the clinicians not to inform her family members, and her boyfriend who is not a legally authorized guardian was to be making proxy decision. Clinicians should judge that her boyfriend to be sufficient to make further medical decision for her or not. To solve these conflicts, possible harms should be identified, weighed and finally judged to be overridden by the rule of confidentiality and autonomy. And we reviewed the Korean legal system about proxy decision making in medical practice.

Author Biographies

Claire Junga Kim

Department of Medical Education, School of Medicine, Ewha Womans University

Yoon Hee Choi

MD, PhD Medical School, Ewha Womans University

Hyun A Bae

Corresponding author: , MD, PhD. School of Law, Ewha Womans University






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