Patients are entitled to choose their own physicians, which includes being permitted to accept or refuse having an intervention performed by a substitute. A surgeon who allows a substitute to conduct a medical procedure on his or her patient without the patient’s knowledge or consent risks compromising the trust-based relationship of patient and physician.
When one or more other appropriately trained health care professionals will participate in performing a surgical intervention, the surgeon has an ethical responsibility to:
- Notify the patient (or surrogate if the patient lacks decision-making capacity) that others will participate, including whether they will do so under the physician’s personal supervision or not.
- Obtain the patient’s or surrogate’s informed consent for the intervention, in keeping with ethical and legal guidelines.
AMA Principles of Medical Ethics: I, II, IV, V
Visit the Ethics main page to access additional Opinions, the Principles of Medical Ethics and more information about the Code of Medical Ethics.