Pregnancy and childbirth pose special patients' rights problems. During an illness, the patient depends upon the physician for treatment. The patient recognizes the necessity to cooperate with the physician. The patient makes some decisions about the medical care, but lets the physician make most of the technical decisions. Pregnancy is not an illness. The patient will "get well" in a specified time and, in most cases, could deliver the baby without a physician. The purpose of the physician is to manage complications and assist the mother in delivering the baby. Many women now ant to be awake and participate in the delivery of their babies. In many cases, the father also want to be present at the delivery. Problems arise because the legal rights of patients were developed for patients with illnesses, and these rights sometimes do not meet the needs of a pregnant patient.
This section will present the legal questions confronting a pregnant woman. In most cases, the woman must work out an agreement with her physician to manage the delivery in a way that is comfortable for both of them. It is recommended that a pregnant woman read several of the popular books that are available on pregnancy and childbirth. A well-informed patient is much better able to protect her rights.
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