Fiduciary

Relating to, or founded upon, a trust or confidence. A legal term. A fiduciary relationship exists where an individual or organization has an explicit or implicit obligation to act in behalf of another person’s or organization’s interests in matters which affect the other person or organization. This fiduciary is also obligated to act in the other person’s best interest with total disregard for any interests of the fiduciary. Traditionally, it was generally believed that a physician had a fiduciary relationship with patients. This is being questioned in the era of managed care as the public becomes aware of the other influences which are effecting physician decisions. Doctors are provided incentives by managed care companies to provide less care, by pharmaceutical companies to order certain drugs and by hospitals to refer to their hospitals. With the pervasive monetary incentives influencing doctor decisions, consumer advocates are concerned because the patient no longer has an unencumbered fiduciary.