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n. a position of relative disadvantage, which requires a person to trust and depend upon others. In a medical context, all patients are vulnerable to an extent and some may be particularly so owing to impaired decision-making abilities or social position. Any exploitation of a vulnerable person is considered contrary to medical ethics. There is increasing interest in the vulnerabilities of health-care professionals themselves and the evidence for compassion fatigue, burnout, and ethical erosion is strong. A number of commentators have argued that the most effective therapeutic relationships occur when both the patient and clinician are aware of their own humanity because they have each experienced being vulnerable. A number of specific services and support groups have been established to help doctors and other health-care professionals in difficulty. —vulnerableadj.

Subjects: Science and Mathematics — Medicine and Health.

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