Healthcare Policy October 30, 2023

Our Duty of Care

by Barry P Chaiken, MD
Excerpts from Following Our Duty of Care

When I see my healthcare provider, I trust that they have my best interests at heart. I bet you do, too. But what is the basis for our trust in them?

Duty of Care” is a framework that governs the conduct and responsibilities of healthcare providers. This obligation extends beyond ethics, constituting a legal mandate that obliges healthcare professionals to deliver safe, efficacious, and compassionate care. While traditionally linked to clinical roles such as doctors, nurses, and pharmacists, it is increasingly relevant to non-clinical staff, including those in administrative and information technology roles. These individuals are instrumental in upholding the integrity of healthcare systems, protecting patient information, and facilitating a high-level patient experience.

Establishing Trust

Duty of Care lays the groundwork for establishing trust between patients and healthcare providers by integrating legal, ethical, and professional elements. Each of these facets contributes to the overarching quality of healthcare services.

Ethical obligations bind physicians and surgeons, often encapsulated in oaths like the Hippocratic Oath, emphasizing the duty to “do no harm.” Adherence to clinical guidelines and evidence-based practices is essential in fulfilling this duty.

Nurses, pharmacists, and other clinicians are vital in patient safety and advocacy. Effective communication within the healthcare team and adherence to safety protocols are essential. Ethical considerations such as respecting patient autonomy and practicing beneficence fulfill the Duty of Care.

All Staff Responsible

Administrative staff are responsible for data protection and confidentiality, critical components of healthcare delivery. They also play a role in ensuring efficient service delivery, scheduling, and billing.

Technological advancements, including telemedicine and wearable devices, are changing the healthcare landscape and, consequently, the Duty of Care. Legal reforms and policy updates are needed to keep pace with these changes.

As healthcare continues to evolve, especially in the age of artificial intelligence, the Duty of Care remains a constant guiding principle that ensures the welfare of patients.

I look forward to your thoughts, so please submit your comments in this post. And subscribe to my weekly newsletter, “What’s Your Take?” on Thanks for your time today.

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