Message from the chair: Challenges to patient-physician relationship

Dr. Laurie C. GreggLaurie C. Gregg, MD

The patient-physician relationship has evolved over the course of our careers. Thirty years ago, a patient seeking care for menorrhagia might have been offered expectant management or hysterectomy. Today, the treatment options barely fit on the notepaper I hand to the patient. We now partner with patients in shared decision-making, offering many solutions with unique risks and benefits. 

Patient-centered care and shared decision-making can increase patient engagement, reduce risk, and improve outcomes. These benefits are highlighted in the ACOG Committee Opinion “Effective Patient-Physician Communication.” Physicians must guard against outside interference, which threatens the quality of care. Some legislators’ intrusions on women’s health have crossed the line.

Recently in the New England Journal of Medicine, ACOG Executive Vice President Hal C. Lawrence III, MD, and leaders from the American College of Physicians, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American College of Surgeons cited more than 700 bills introduced at state and national levels restricting care in the exam room. The article, “Legislative Interference with the Patient-Physician Relationship,” was published in the October 18 issue of the journal.

ACOG Fellows who review these bills see political agendas, rather than evidence-based best practice, driving care for women. When good medical care is threatened, ACOG leadership will strongly advocate for the women affected.