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Responsibility to or for in the physician-patient relationship?
  1. R C McMillan
  1. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Mercer University School of Medicine, Macon, Georgia, USA.

    Abstract

    The threat of malpractice litigation in the United States is encouraging physicians again to assume responsibility for their patients. The fundamental ethical problem, however, is that this approach denies the patient's moral agency. In this essay, responsibility to patients, rather than for them, is discussed as an alternative to the emerging neo-paternalism. Responsibility to avoids the ethical problems of assuming responsibility for moral agents and could reduce the threat of litigation as well.

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