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Comment & Response
November 2016

Surgeon’s Responsibility for Patient Care—Reply

Author Affiliations
  • 1Cardiac Surgery Intensive Care Unit, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, Los Angeles, California
  • 2Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative, and Pain Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 3Department of Surgery, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California
JAMA Surg. 2016;151(11):1092. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2016.2357

In Reply Far from being marginalized, the surgeon’s role on the health care team is both critical and central because only the surgeon is aware of all elements of the operation. In this regard, Dr Reiling raises important points about responsibility and teamwork in an era of increasingly complex care.

The concept of responsibility is invested with both legal and ethical meanings. From a legal perspective, anyone caring for a patient may be held responsible for adverse outcomes.1 From an ethical perspective, we acknowledge that a surgeon has a unique relationship with a patient owing in part to the constellation of events and interactions that evolve as a result of a decision to undergo surgery.2

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