The doctor's role
The roles of doctors and their place in society vary from time to time and from country to country, depending on many factors:
- Religious and mystical influence
- Degree of political authoritarianism
- Degree of influence of various health-related lobbies
- Social structure: distribution of wealth and social status, caste, racism, sexism, etc.
- Physicians' social and financial origins and status
- Image of the community
- Image of the individual
- Education level of the population
Schematically, we can see an evolution in Europe:
- During antiquity: the patient's duty to take care of himself and to accept treatment from a doctor with religious or sacred authority.
- Gradual evolution towards paternalism: the doctor "knows what's good", the patient must obey in his or her own interest
- Very recent evolution :
- towards patient autonomy: informed consent, right to health, patient charter, lessening of the doctor's authority
- in countries where healthcare costs have been progressively socialized, various measures aimed at reducing these costs for the state are modifying the doctor's role:
- loss of physician autonomy: state control over examination and treatment prescriptions
- development of telemedicine
- reallocation or delegation of medical procedures to paramedical professions.
Dr Shanan Khairi, MD