Professionalism and ethics

Supervisor notes

Doctor’s duty of care and patient autonomy


General practitioners have a special duty of care to their patients. However, there will be times when the patient and their doctor’s wishes will not align. This can be an unfamiliar and distressing situation for registrars.


It is expected that the registrar will discuss the concepts of patient’s rights, duty of care and autonomy.


For case one, Harry refuses to voluntarily go to hospital regardless of how convincing an argument the registrar is able to give.


Case two identifies firstly, end of life care and secondly relationship boundaries (doctor/patient, doctor/friend).


Useful resources:

  • Good medical practice: A code of conduct for doctors in Australia (Medical Board of Australia)

  • The Role of the Medical Practitioner in End of Life Care (AMA)

  • End of life decisions and the law (Australian Family Physician)

  • Patients, friends, and relationship boundaries (Canadian Family Physician)