Patients and physicians both have responsibilities to contribute to an alliance based on mutual respect. Your well-being and overall health depend on both you and your doctor living up to your respective responsibilities.
According to the American Medical Association’s Code of Medical Ethics, you have certain rights as a patient. While these rights apply generally to any medical treatment you receive, there are some that are particularly relevant to the surgery.
Your doctor may recommend surgery to you as the optimal treatment option for your condition. However, as long as you have sufficient capacity, you have the right to make your own decisions regarding the treatment you receive. This means you have the right to refuse surgical treatment, and your doctor cannot force you to submit to the procedure.
When your doctor recommends surgery, you have a right to receive all information pertaining to the procedure that he or she suggests. Your doctor should provide guidance on the optimal treatment course as well as the benefits and risks of the recommended procedure and any alternative treatment options. Because you have the right to refuse the recommended treatment, your doctor should also explain the risks and benefits of forgoing it. This allows you to make your decision based on complete information.
Continuity of care
Your primary care physician has the responsibility to coordinate care with other health care professionals as needed. For example, a general practitioner may not perform the surgical procedure you need, so your primary physician has the responsibility to refer you to a qualified surgeon.
As a patient, you also have responsibilities to be candid with your physician and to seek the necessary care. In this way, you and your physicians cooperate in the interest of keeping you healthy.