Principles of autonomy and self-determination have been upheld as vital to modern-day medical and ethical practice. However, the complexities of current health care and changes in the expectation of some patients and their families justify a review of such concepts. Their limitations and relativities may suggest that other descriptions of partnership and negotiated goal-setting, while based on respect for autonomy, reflect more modern and ideal multi-disciplinary practices. Discussion should extend beyond the 'classic' participants of patient and doctor to a more realistic picture where other health carers are included. It is therefore apposite that other professional relationships are considered as they affect areas of doctors' and patients' responsibilities. Such partnership between members of the team may not be without problems and conflict, but the principle of negotiated agreements could result in more long-term harmony, and greater patient welfare.
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