OT Corner: Patient vs. Client – What Could go Wrong? Look Around and See…
[Source: ABC Therapeutics]
Thirty years ago there was an important philosophical debate in the occupational therapy profession. That debate had to do with whether or not use of the term ‘patient’ or ‘client’ was more appropriate for occupational therapy.
Reilly argued that a move away from the term ‘patient’ would equate to abandoning the moral base of the profession and in fact changes the entire purpose of the profession. She considered the change as abandonment of our ethics around patient care, and without those ethics we would no longer be in a position to help people because we would instead have to focus on contractually serving the needs of our patron clients.
Yerxa and Sharrott were also deeply concerned about abandoning patient-based ethics. They outlined several problems with client-based ethics (my numbering for organization purposes):
1. A legalistic or rights-based medical ethic is untenable for several reasons. First, it would require that requests for medical care be allotted on a preemptory basis…
2. Second, the patient-health professional relationship would forfeit its compassion and trust for the adversarial relationship of legal ethics.
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