Abstract 摘要

The doctor-patient relationship in China is currently experiencing a crisis of trust brought on by the absence of traditional morals and values in healthcare. The Confucian doctrine of ren (benevolence) is based on the possibility of moral perfection in humanity, which in turn guides one how to treat others in family and non-family social relationships. Ren as a relational virtue is particularly important for the doctor-patient relationship. That is why the Confucian idea of “treating a patient like a family member” was popular in traditional medical practice. However, current medical practice is designed around the people who deliver the care, who happen to pay more attention to their own interests and benefits than those of their patients.

The essay contends that although Confucian teaching does not exclude the pursuit of self-interest or self-benefit, it does emphasize virtue and personal character, especially for doctors. No doctor is expected to make a profit that is not within the scope of moral principles, even in a resource-constrained setting. It is thus time to realign the values of the Chinese healthcare system based on Confucian virtues so that the patient is again the center of attention. The essay puts forward suggestions for medical professionals to discipline themselves by ensuring good professional and interpersonal skills.