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Ethics: Provider–Patient Interaction

  • By: Heather J. Carmack
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

A moral component underlies every health interaction, be it a routine yearly exam or treatment for a terminal illness. Providers and patients must determine the ethical standards for each interaction and act accordingly. Some ethical dilemmas are clearly outlined by professional ethical codes, such as avoiding sexual misconduct with patients and treating patients without proper licensures. Other ethical issues, however, are not as clear and present a quandary for providers and patients.

The fiduciary relationship is one of the guiding principles for ethical interactions between providers and patients. Originally outlined in the Hippocratic Oath, the fiduciary relationship posits that providers have a duty to act in their patients' best interest and not to exploit their patients. However, as the case of Nadya Suleman (the Octomom) illustrates, ...

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