The relative—professional relationship
This chapter considers the nature and appropriate conduct of the relationship between professional carers and the patient's family or other close friends, referred to in general terms as ‘relatives’. There are three aspects of the role of the relationship between health-care professionals and relatives. First, they may both act as carers for the patient and so share this responsibility. Second, they may both have a part to play in decision making regarding aspects of care and treatment. Third, since relatives are in intimate relationships with patients, patients and relatives are bound to affect each other in psychological and physical ways. Obligations of confidentiality apply when divulging information about the patient to relatives. Since autonomy is self-rule, the autonomy of relatives relates to the conduct of their own lives, not that of the patient.
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