Whose Patient Is This? A Scoping Review of Patient Ownership

Michelle E. Kiger*, Holly S. Meyer, Caitlin Hammond, Katherine M. Miller, Kara J. Dickey, Daniel V. Hammond, Lara Varpio

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Purpose The scope of physicians’ responsibility toward patients is becoming increasingly complicated to delimit as interdisciplinary care delivery and degrees of subspecialization increase. Patients can easily be lost across multiple transitions involved in care. Preparing learners to engage in safe and responsible patient care requires that we be clear about parameters of patient ownership. This scoping review (1) explores and synthesizes definitions of patient ownership and (2) describes the factors that influence patient ownership. Method Searching PubMed, Embase, and PsycINFO, the authors sought out publications of any format (i.e., original research papers, review articles, commentaries, editorials, and author discussions) that (1) addressed patient ownership directly or a closely related concept that explicitly affected patient ownership, (2) included medical care providers (attending/faculty physicians, medical residents, and/or medical students), and (3) were published in English. The authors analyzed findings to construct common themes and categorize findings. Results Of 411 papers screened, 82 met our inclusion criteria. Twenty-three papers defined patient ownership in highly variable ways. Common themes across definitions included responsibility for patient care, personally carrying out patient care tasks, knowledge of patients’ medical information, independent decision making, and putting patients’ needs above one’s own. Factors influencing patient ownership were (1) logistical concerns, (2) personal attributes, and (3) socially or organizationally constructed expectations. Conclusions A new definition of patient ownership is proposed encompassing findings from the review, while also respecting the shift from individual to a team-based patient care, and without removing the centrality of an individual provider’s commitment to patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S95-S104
JournalAcademic Medicine
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


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