The Clinical Encounter
The encounter between patient and physician may be characterized as the focus of medicine. As such, the patient-physician relationship, or more accurately the conduct of patients and physicians, has been the subject of considerable comment, inquiry, and debate throughout the centuries. The issues and concerns discussed, apart from those more specifically related to medical theory and therapy, range from matters of etiquette to profound questions of philosophical and moral interest. This discourse is impressive with respect both to its duration and content. Contemporary scholars and laypeople have made their contribution to these long-standing discussions. In addition, they have actively addressed those distinctively modern issues that have arisen as a result of increased medical knowledge, improved technology, and changing cultural and moral expectation. The concept of the patient-physician rela tionship that supposedly provides a framework for the conduct of patients and physicians seemingly has taken on a life of its own, inviolable, and subject to norms particular to it. The essays in this volume elucidate the nature of the patient-physician relationship, its character, and moral norms appropriate to it. The purpose of the collection is to enhance our understanding of that context, which many consider to be the focus of the entire medical enterprise. The con tributors have not engaged in apologetics, polemics, homiletics, or em piricism.