The Good Doctor: What Patients Want

Ron Paterson



‘What do these stories tell us about the state of relations between patients and doctors? Do patients have unrealistic expectations, as is often claimed? Is the unhappiness endemic, or just a predictable response from parties whose relationship has broken down?’


What makes a good doctor? Are there bad doctors out there – and if so how do we protect patients from them? Can we inject more information, more trust and more assured competence into the medical system to solve these problems?

Drawing on his years of dealing with patient concerns, Ron Paterson tackles these important questions. The book makes challenging arguments:

  • that patients don’t demand the sort of information about doctors that they should;
  • that doctors who feel put upon by information overload, patient demands, complaints and growing requirements from employers, colleges, medical boards and government, will be resistant to any additional regulation of their activity;
  • that doctors are reluctant to judge problem doctors and prefer the ‘quiet chat’; and
  • that current law and practice is lax when it comes to checking that doctors remain up-to-date.

Paterson concludes the book with proposals to lift the veil of secrecy, to inform patients better and to revalidate doctors periodically, all key ways we might improve patient care.

The Good Doctor will be prescribed reading for doctors, patients and policymakers—all of those determined to make sure patients get the medical care they deserve.


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With law degrees from the University of Auckland and Oxford University, Ron Paterson is Professor of Health Law and Policy at the University of Auckland. He was the New Zealand Health and Disability Commissioner from 2000 to 2010 and Deputy Director-General, Ministry of Health, 1998–99. He is co-editor of the textbook Medical Law in New Zealand (2006). Paterson researched and wrote The Good Doctor during his time as the 2009 New Zealand Law Foundation International Research Fellow.


June 2012, 210 x 140 mm, 184 pages
Paperback, ISBN 9781869405922, $39.99