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Medical paternalism is a term describing practices in medicine which were current in the early to mid 20th century, characterised by a paternalistic attitude, surrogate decision-making and a lack of respect for patient autonomy. It was associated with an autocratic style of medical education and practice memorably satirised by Richard Gordon in Doctor in the House and its sequels.
By the end of the 20th century and into the 21st, paternalistic medicine was increasingly seen as inappropriate in the West with guidance from professional bodies such as the General Medical Council indicating that it is ethically unsupportable.
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