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Commentary |

Will My Job Be Safe If I Defend My Patients?Patient Advocacy vs Obedience to Employer: When Patient Advocacy Collides With Employment Law

Constantine A. Manthous, MD, FCCP; Abigail R. Moncrieff, JD
Author and Funding Information

From the Department of Medicine (Dr Manthous), Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT; and Boston University School of Law (Dr Moncrieff), Boston, MA.

Correspondence to: Constantine A. Manthous, MD, FCCP, 4450 Whitney Ave, Hamden, CT 06518; e-mail: cmanthous@thocc.org


Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians. See online for more details.


Chest. 2013;144(4):1106-1110. doi:10.1378/chest.13-0040
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Physicians are moving increasingly from self-employed, private practices to at-will employment relationships. This historic change in the organizational administration of medical services is likely to accelerate as the Affordable Care Act is implemented and as accountable care organizations permeate the medical marketplace. Physicians vow an ascendant oath to safeguard patients’ welfare, but as they become employees, they may sign legal contracts that also oblige obedience to the institutions that hire them. What happens when an employer makes a decision that is not in the best interests of patients and the physicians fulfill their Hippocratic obligation to voice dissent on their patients’ behalf rather than abiding by their contractual obligation to obey their employer? This article explores the philosophical and legal ramifications of this potential collision of obligations to patients and to employers.


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