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Patients

The physician-patient relationship arises from state statutes and common law rules. The special rights attendant to the medical license, combined with the physician's superior knowledge and access to medical care facilities, underpin the physician-patient relationship. In the past, physician paternalism and failure to give patients adequate information left the patient little power. Through informed consent doctrine and the patient's rights movement, patients have gained substantial autonomy in relation to physicians. This patient empowerment has been greatly constrained by the increasing power of third-party payers over both physicians and patients. Informed choice means little if insurers will not pay for alternative care or limit the patient's right to choose a physician.


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