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Cambridge University Press




The movement for enhanced patients' rights is based on two premises: (I) citizens possess certain rights that are not automatically forfeited by entering into a relationship with a physician or health care facility; and (2) most physicians and health care facilities fail to recognize these rights, fall to provide for their protection or assertion, and limit their exercise without recourse.

The primary argument against patients' rights is that patients have "needs" and defining these needs in terms of rights leads to the creation of an unhealthy adversary relationship.' It is not, however, the creation of rights, but the disregard of them, that produces adversaries. When care provider and patient work together in an atmosphere of mutual trust and understanding, the articulation of rights can only enhance their relationship.

Many issues cannot be resolved entirely within the provider-patient relationship, however. Providers not only have formal relationships with their patients but also have relationships with other providers, health care institutions, and numerous governmental agencies. A provider's relationship with these institutions and individuals is often a very complex one, and providers often find themselves confused and therefore submissive in cases where they do not understand their own rights or those of their patients.

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