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would enhance the physician-patient relationship by
opening the door to an honest conversation about
the circumstances under which each operation will
be performed and who will be performing it.
As the practice of medicine and surgery continues to
evolve, it is critical that surgeons maintain the bond
between physician and patient—the unwritten agreement that we enter into when we agree to accept a
person as a patient, to first do no harm, and to uphold
and be worthy of the patient’s trust. Although the
specific limits of preoperative surgeon disclosure are
debatable, it is clear that surgeons owe patients the
utmost honesty. Knowing what you do about what
happens inside an OR, what would you want your
surgeon to disclose if your family member lay on
the gurney? And should your surgeon be forced to
disclose that information if not asked? This process
may be better facilitated by the development of more
formal disclosure guidelines.
If recent history has taught us anything, it is that
it is essential for surgeon leaders to remain engaged
and in front of this evolving surgeon disclosure discussion so that we many continue to hold a primary
decision-making role in patient-centered care. If we
do not, government agencies and, eventually, insurance companies, will do it for us. Both the RAS-ACS
and the College as a whole are well positioned to
realize these goals today and in the future. ♦
Although the specific limits of preoperative surgeon disclosure can
be debated, it is clear that surgeons owe patients the utmost honesty.