Can Health Law Truly Become Patient-Centered?
15 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2011
This essay addresses the potential influence of the patient-centered care movement on the legal structures and rules that govern the provision of health care in the United States. Simply put, can our system of health law truly become patient-centered? The sad truth is that many of our efforts to protect patient interests have fallen far short of the goal. The complexities of the legal system offer a highly imperfect mechanism for achieving ethical ideals. Law by necessity relies on practical rules of general applicability - rules that themselves may become barriers to reaching the very goals they are designed to achieve. Experience has shown us that ethical precepts tend to translate into limited legal rules that at best protect only a small subset of patients, and at worst co-opt the language of patient-centeredness for other agendas entirely. This does not mean, of course, that we should not expect health law to do more. But we must be mindful of these problems, lest our renewed efforts to achieve patient-centeredness suffer a similar fate.
Keywords: Patient-Centered Care, Health Care Fraud, Informed Consent
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