Restoring Medical Professionalism: Physicians as Advocates for Their Patients

Date of Event



March 25-26, 2022

The Law-Medicine Center at Case Western Reserve University School of Law is hosting an interdisciplinary conference titled “Restoring Medical Professionalism: Physicians as Advocates for Their Patients,” which will explore ways in which physicians can be supported when they advocate for their patients’ welfare. The event will be held on Friday, March 25, and Saturday morning, March 26, 2022.

The ability of physicians to advocate for their patients is an essential aspect of their professionalism, and critical for patient trust and well-being. Modern medicine recognized this by stating at the outset of the first modern code of medical ethics that patient welfare depended on physicians’ “skill, attention, and fidelity,” and the law accordingly regards physicians as fiduciaries for their patients. Yet pressures on physicians from employers and others have limited physicians’ ability to fulfill this vital obligation. One response might be to punish physicians who succumb to these pressures, but a better solution would be to support physicians who resist them. The March conference therefore will explore ways to strengthen physicians’ ability to advocate for their patients. Many people think it is too late, that physicians have irretrievably lost this crucial aspect of professionalism, but for the sake of patients and the profession, this conference hopes that this is not the case.

The conference will be open to the public, webcast, and videotaped for later viewing. It will begin with proposals from invited experts, followed by discussion with the presenters, other experts, and the general audience. Following the conference, a report and recommendations will be published in the Case Western Reserve University health law journal, Health Matrix, and publicly disseminated.

Presenters include:

Robert Bitonte, MD, JD, past president of the LA County Medical Society, who will propose creating a billing code for patient advocacy;

Stuart Bussey, MD, JD, president of the Union of American Physicians and Dentists, who will propose unionization of employed physicians;

Professor Mark Hall, the Fred D. and Elizabeth L. Turnage Professor of Law at Wake Forest University, who will propose reinvigorating state corporate-practice-of-medicine laws to limit private equity ownership of physician practices;

Sara Scher, RN, JD, CEO of the Cooperative of American Physicians, who will propose facilitating access to medical malpractice insurance for small and sole practices;

Professor Milan Markovic, Texas A&M School of Law, who will discuss what we can learn from attorneys’ fiduciary duties to clients;

Professor Maxwell Mehlman, Case Western Reserve Distinguished University Professor and the Arthur E. Petersilge Professor of Law, who proposes expanding state and federal laws and judicial rules that seek to protect physicians who act as fiduciaries for their patients from retaliation by employers, insurers and others.

Lecture Series

Law-Medicine Center

Subject Headings

medical professionalism; physicians and patients; physicians as advocates for patients


CWRU School of Law, A59, Mootcourt Room and Virtual Event

Document Type