In the latter half of the twentieth century, significant changes to the physician-patient relationship occurred, profoundly changing the roles of both physicians and patients in Canada. The traditional beneficence model of medicine, where treatment and providing medical benefits often surpassed patient autonomy, evolved into a model premised on patient rights. These patient rights are governed by the societal norms for autonomy and are coupled with the respective rights and duties of physicians.
Several factors have contributed to the decline of the beneficence model of medicine in Canada. From the professionalization of Canadian medicine to the growth of specialization in medical knowledge and technology; from the emergence of the modern hospital to the onset of public health insurance; from the proliferation of paramedical personnel to ever-greater demands from patients for a say in assessing and attending to their medical needs, changes to the health care system and Canadian society have fundamentally altered the relationship between physicians and patients.
The Advocates' Society Quarterly, 2007