Maintaining trust in the surgeon-patient relationship: challenges for the new millennium

Arch Surg. 2000 Jan;135(1):55-61. doi: 10.1001/archsurg.135.1.55.


Changes in the structure of the health care system have placed unprecedented stress on the surgeon-patient relationship. The essential trust placed in the surgeon by her patients has been weakened by changes in the structure and financing of the health care system. This article considers the historical and ethical foundation of the surgeon-patient relationship and proposes that the primary moral obligation of surgeons is to strengthen and earn patient trust. By improving communication skills, enhancing ethical education, serving as consistent advocates for patients, and conducting patient-focused outcome research, the surgical community can meet its moral obligation by increasing trust in the surgeon-patient relationship.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Conflict of Interest
  • Ethics, Medical*
  • Forecasting
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Humans
  • Managed Care Programs / trends*
  • Morals
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • United States