The Patient as Consumer: Empowerment or Commodification? Currents in Contemporary Bioethics

Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 43 (1):162-165 (2015)
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Discussions surrounding patient engagement and empowerment often use the terms “patient” and “consumer” interchangeably. But do the two terms hold the same meaning, or is a “patient” a passive actor in the health care arena and a “consumer” an informed, rational decision-maker? Has there been a shift in our usage of the two terms that aligns with the increasing commercialization of health care in the U.S. or has the patient/consumer dynamic always been a part of the buying and selling of health care in the American system? Recent discussions of the issue exist in the popular press and in social media forums such as TEDMED, but few direct analyses of the ethical, legal, and policy ramifications of this possible shift in terminology are available in the academic literature. This paper analyzes our usage of the terms and any recent changes in the dynamic and discusses the ethical, legal, and policy implications of this simple terminology for the physicianpatient relationship



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Morality, consumerism and the internal market in health care.T. Sorell - 1997 - Journal of Medical Ethics 23 (2):71-76.
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