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New ethical guidance from ACP for patient-physician-caregiver relationship
Date:1/12/2010

PHILADELPHIA, January 12, 2010 -- The American College of Physicians (ACP) has issued a position paper to guide ethical relationships among patients, physicians, and caregivers.

The Journal of General Internal Medicine has published "Family Caregivers, Patients and Physicians: Ethical Guidance to Optimize Relationships." The text and an online appendix of resources to help physicians manage relationships with patients and caregivers are available at http://www.acponline.org/running_practice/ethics/issues/policy.

"The ethical guidance outlined in this paper is intended to heighten physician awareness of the importance and complexity of the patient-physician-caregiver relationship," said ACP President Joseph Stubbs, MD, FACP. "It is essential for physicians to consider quality of life for both patients and caregivers."

The paper -- endorsed by 10 other professional medical societies -- defines caregivers as relatives, partners, friends, and neighbors of patients who assist with activities of daily living and complex health care needs. It outlines four primary principles for physicians, who may face ethical challenges collaborating with patients and caregivers while preserving the primacy of the patient-physician relationship:

  • Respect for the patient's dignity, rights, and values should guide all patient-physician- caregiver interactions.

  • Effective communication and physician accessibility are fundamental to supporting the patient and family caregiver.

  • The physician should recognize the value of family caregivers as a source of continuity regarding the patient's medical and psychosocial history and facilitate the intellectual and emotional transition to the end stage of serious chronic illness.

  • When the caregiver is a health care professional, the physician should draw appropriate boundaries to
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Contact: Steve Majewski
smajewski@acponline.org
215-351-2514
American College of Physicians
Source:Eurekalert

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