Volume 17, Number 3, September 2005

The Patient-surgeon Relationship. Part I: Its Professional Nature and Moral Implications

Edwin C Hui
Medical Ethics Unit, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong

This paper is the first part of a discussion of the moral implications of the patient-surgeon relationship from the professional, moral, and legal perspectives that have been developed in, and adopted by, medical communities in western countries. In part I, the origin of professionalism in modern times is reviewed. The article shows why moral obligations are an essential part of the concept of professionalism, and that the patient-doctor relationship is the locus where the core values of the surgical profession are to be realised. Some of the more important models of the patient-doctor relationship are reviewed and their functions and limitations relative to the surgical profession are assessed. The paper discusses the issue of giving primacy to patients' interests, even at the cost of effacing of doctors' own interest, as the professional fidelity that is expected by patients. The article concludes with discussion of modern-day challenges to the concept of medical professionalism.

Key words:
Morals, Personal autonomy, Physician-patient relations, Professional autonomy, Professional role

Asian J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2005;17:151-156.
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