Doctor- Patient Relationship- A Paradigm Shift
Amity Law School, GGSIPU, New Delhi
“Primum non nocere”
“Above all, do no harm.”
The doctor-patient relationship has been the keystone of the healthcare infrastructure. It covers fundamental responsibilities of a doctor/physician towards his patient and vice-versa. There are primarily, two ways of determining the nature of such a relationship, namely, contractual (a contract between medicine and society) or fiduciary (a relationship of trust). A rise in healthcare consumerism and human rights awareness, and with the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 thrown into the mix, this relationship has witnessed a paradigm shift, that has made the fixation of liability of the doctors an essential concern. As per an egalitarian practice, the doctor had the power and authority to decide best for his patient, However, due to the current socio-economic and politico-legal scenario, this sacred accord is undergoing a change, where patients can approach consumer forums and question the doctor’s discretion. A few international precedents have also been highlighted by the author to draw attention to the changing nature of the doctor-patient relationship.
This paper is an attempt to analyse the patterns of communication and discuss various models of the doctor-patient relationship. At the same time, the author intends to address the issue at hand, by suggesting how doctors can reduce liability and improve patient experience, in the light of a few guidelines laid down by the World Health Organization and Medical Council of India.