A legal perspective on the power imbalances in the doctor-patient relationship

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dc.contributor.advisor Du Plessis, L. M. en_ZA
dc.contributor.author Le Roux-Kemp, Andra en_ZA
dc.contributor.other University of Stellenbosch. Faculty of Law. Dept. of Public Law.
dc.date.accessioned 2010-02-23T07:30:24Z en_ZA
dc.date.accessioned 2010-06-01T08:18:43Z
dc.date.available 2010-02-23T07:30:24Z en_ZA
dc.date.available 2010-06-01T08:18:43Z
dc.date.issued 2010-03 en_ZA
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/1330
dc.description Thesis (LLD (Public Law))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010. en_ZA
dc.description.abstract ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The unique and intimate relationship that exists between a medical practitioner and his/her client is possibly one of the most important relationships that can come into being between any two people. This relationship is characterised and influenced by the qualities and attributes specific to the nature and historical development of medical care, as well as medical science in general. The doctor-patient relationship is also influenced by the social dynamics of a particular community, environmental factors, technological advances and the general social and commercial evolution of the human race. With regard to medical care and health service delivery, the doctor-patient relationship is furthermore vital to the quality of the care provided, as well as to the outcomes and relative success of the specific medical intervention or treatment. One of the distinct characteristics of the doctor-patient relationship is the power imbalance inherent in this relationship. The medical practitioner has expert knowledge and skill, while the patient finds himself or herself in an unusually dependent and vulnerable position. It is because of this important role that the doctor-patient relationship still plays in health service delivery today; the susceptibility of the relationship to a variety of influences, and the characteristic power imbalances inherent in this relationship, that a study of the doctor-patient relationship in South African medical- and health law is necessary. The characteristic power imbalances will be considered from a legal perspective in this dissertation. This study provides a comprehensive source of the doctor-patient relationship from a legal perspective. Where relevant, references are made to theories and principles from other disciplines, including sociology, economy and medical ethnomethodology. The prevalence and consequences of power imbalances in the doctor-patient relationship are identified and discussed with the aim of bringing these to the attention of both the legal fraternity, and medical practitioners. Specific problem areas are identified and solutions are offered, including the following: • The adverse consequences of power imbalances inherent in the doctor-patient relationship on the medical decision-making process are considered from various perspectives. With regard to these adverse consequences, the doctrine of informed consent is analysed and evaluated in great detail. • The influence of paternalistic notions in health service delivery; the business model of health service delivery and the effects of managed care and consumer-directed health care on the doctor-patient relationship and health service delivery in general are also analysed from a legal perspective, and specifically with regard to the power imbalances inherent in this relationship. • The role of autonomy, self-determination and dignity, as well as the principles of beneficence in medical practice, are reconsidered in an attempt to provide a solution for redressing the power imbalances inherent in the doctor-patient relationship. • The fiduciary nature of the doctor-patient relationship and the special role of trust in the relationship are emphasised throughout the dissertation as the focal point of departure in the doctor-patient relationship and the main constituent in any legal endeavor to redress the power imbalances inherent in it. en_ZA
dc.description.abstract AFRIKAANS OPSOMMING: Die unieke en intieme verhouding wat bestaan tussen ‘n mediese praktisyn en ‘n pasiënt is wêreldwyd waarskynlik een van die belangrikste verhoudings wat tussen twee persone tot stand kan kom. Hierdie verhouding word gekenmerk en beïnvloed deur kwaliteite en eienskappe eie aan die besonderse aard en historiese ontwikkeling van gesondheidsorg, sowel as die mediese wetenskap in die algemeen. Die dokter-pasiënt verhouding word verder beïnvloed deur die sosiale dinamika van ‘n bepaalde gemeenskap, omgewingsfaktore, tegnologiese vooruitgang en die algemene sosiale en kommersiële ontwikkeling van die mensdom. Op die terrein van gesondheidsorg en mediese dienslewering is die dokter-pasiënt verhouding voorts ook sentraal tot die kwaliteit van die mediese sorg wat verskaf word, sowel as die uitkomste en relatiewe sukses van die spesifieke mediese behandeling. Een van die kenmerkende eienskappe van die dokter-pasiënt verhouding is die magswanbalans wat daar tussen dokter en pasiënt bestaan. Die mediese praktisyn beskik oor deskundige kennis en vaardighede, terwyl die pasiënt hom- of haarself in ‘n ongewone, afhanklike en kwesbare posisie bevind. Dit is dan veral weens die besondere rol wat hierdie verhouding steeds in hedendaagse gesondheidsorg speel, die beïnvloedbaarheid van hierdie verhouding deur ‘n verskeidenheid faktore, sowel as die kenmerkende magswanbalans inherent in die verhouding, dat ‘n ondersoek na die dokter-pasiënt verhouding in die Suid-Afrikaanse mediese reg noodsaaklik is. Hierdie kenmerkende magswanbalans sal vanuit ‘n regsperspektief verder in hierdie proefskrif ondersoek word. Hierdie studie bied ‘n omvattende bron van die dokter-pasiënt verhouding benader vanuit ‘n regsperspektief, terwyl verwysings na teorieë en beginsels van ander dissiplines soos die sosiologie, ekonomie en mediese etnometodologie ook waar nodig ingesluit word. Die voorkoms en gevolge van ‘n magswanbalans in die dokter-pasiënt verhouding word verder geïdentifiseer en bespreek ten einde dit onder die aandag te bring van beide regslui en medici. Spesifieke probleemareas wat geïdentifiseer is en die oplossings wat daarvoor aan die hand gedoen is sluit die volgende in: • Die nadelige gevolge van die bestaan van ‘n magswanbalans in die dokter-pasiënt verhouding op die mediese-besluitnemingsproses word bespreek vanuit verskillende persepktiewe. Met betrekking tot hierdie nadelige gevolge, word die leerstuk van ingeligte toestemming in besonder geanaliseer en geëvalueer. • Die invloed van ‘n paternalistiese benadering tot gesondheidsorg, die besigheids-model van gesondheidsorg, en die effek van bestuurde- en verbruikersgedrewe gesondheidsorg inisiatiewe op die dokter-pasiënt verhouding en die verskaffing van gesondheidsdienste in die algemeen word ook vanuit ‘n regsperspektief ge-analiseer. Spesifieke aandag word in dié verband gegee aan die invloede van hierdie benaderings en perspektiewe op die magswanbalans inherent aan die dokter-pasiënt verhouding. • Die besondere rol van autonomie, selfbeskikking en menswaardigheid, asook die beginsels van weldadigheid in gesondheidsorg, word heroorweeg in ‘n poging om ‘n meer gelyke distribusie van mag in die dokter-pasiënt verhouding te verseker. • Die fidusiêre aard van die dokter-pasiënt verhouding en die besondere rol wat vertroue in hierdie verhouding speel, word in hierdie proefskrif beklemtoon en word voorts as die basis van die dokter-pasiënt verhouding beskou. Vertroue, as ‘n kenmerk van die dokter-pasiënt verhouding, behoort ook die fokuspunt te wees van enige poging om die magswanbalans in die dokter-pasiënt verhouding aan te spreek. af_ZA
dc.language.iso en en_ZA
dc.publisher Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch
dc.subject Power imbalances en_ZA
dc.subject Medical profession en_ZA
dc.subject Medical decision-making en_ZA
dc.subject Consumerism en_ZA
dc.subject Dissertations -- Public law en
dc.subject Theses -- Public law en
dc.subject.lcsh Informed consent (Medical law) en_ZA
dc.subject.lcsh Physician and patient -- Moral and ethical aspects -- South Africa en_ZA
dc.subject.lcsh Physicians -- Professional ethics en_ZA
dc.subject.lcsh Patients -- Legal status, laws, etc. en_ZA
dc.subject.lcsh Physicians -- Legal status, laws, etc. en_ZA
dc.title A legal perspective on the power imbalances in the doctor-patient relationship en_ZA
dc.type Thesis en_ZA
dc.rights.holder University of Stellenbosch


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