Limor Malul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The nature of physician-patient relationships has been documented in the ancient Greek and Roman, as well as in that of the Middle Ages and modern times' literature. Far back as in Hippocrates' writings, ethical dilemmas including those concerning patient-physician relationships, patient consent to treatment and end of life issues have been raised and discussed. Over time, changes have occurred in the dynamic between the diverse values that are taken into consideration when defining the therapeutic milieu. The nature of this dyad has have moved from a paternalistic framework empowering the physician and emphasizing the patient's wellbeing, to a relational framework that empowers the patient and is focused on his desires and rights. The pendulum of the physician-patient relationship is continually adjusted, in each era, in accordance with contemporary social values and by norms that have been shaped by judicial tribunals and legislation. Viewing the issue of physician-patient relationship as an ethical dilemma deeply rooted within social-cultural contexts demands the formulation of a theoretical framework incorporating the relevant ethical principles and a system of implementation that constitutes a declaration of intention concerning the values we thereby wish to protect. The current state of affairs in which legal and legislative arrangements prefer patient autonomy above other significant social values, could provide the foundation for a more stable, appropriate and fruitful physician-patient relationship. This article wishes to critically examine the questions of whether and, in what ways, the law influences the character of the physician-patient relationship and the implications of such influence for medical policy and practice. In light of the lack of consistency of rulings in this domain, the necessity of adopting ethical guidelines through legislation and need for the legal system to constructively and systematically balance the diverse ethical approaches regarding the physician-patient relationship, becomes clear.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-86
Number of pages26
JournalMedicine and Law
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Law


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