7 Aug 2014

Are you a Client or a Patient?

Signing Before Surgery

We have always referred to people who seek our services as ‘patients’, but a recent article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has reminded us that not everyone accepts this as preferable to ‘clients’. The term client reflects the power and autonomy of a healthy person who pays for a service, and if it is your preference, we invite you to be our client! From our perspective though, you will always be a patient, as our advice and treatment must always reflect the responsibilities we accept by being your doctor. We need to be confident that you have a problem that is significant enough to warrant the expense, discomfort, inconvenience, and risks of trying to fix it. Patients will often present to our office expecting to have surgery, and they are so committed to this idea that they will try to avoid a discussion about the risks and limits of surgery- they just want to do it. If they were a client, we could justify proceeding with surgery, but as our patient we must always do the right thing and withhold surgery.

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Michael Kreidstein, MD, MSc, FRCS(C)

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