Friday, September 24, 2010

In Defense of Physician Autonomy

Dr. Saul Greenfield, pediatric urologist and professor of medicine, wrote in the Sept. 7, 2010 WSJ:

In recent political debates, the autonomous physician has been portrayed as a problem to be solved, an out-of-control actor motivated by greed---and a major cause of rising health-care costs...

Physician autonomy is a major defense against those who comfortably sit in remote offices and make calculations based ont concerns other than an individual patient's welfare. Uniformity of practice is a nonsensical goal that fails to allow for differing expression of disease states.

this is not to say that critical research, randomized controlled trials, literature meta-analysis an guidelines are not necessary and useful. They are all essential...But we must recognize that many physicians will often make decisions that deliberately do not conform to "community standards"---and that patients will be better for it.

Dr. Greenfield correctly points out that quality medical care consists of physicians applying their independent assessments to the unique circumstances of each individual patient. Without autonomy, this goal can not be achieved.

Read the rest of what he writes "In Defense of Physician Autonomy."

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