Patient non‐adherence is a common and important concern in clinical medicine. Some cases of patient non‐adherence are cases in which the patient disagrees with the physician's recommended treatment based on particular reasons. Drawing upon science and technology studies literature, specifically the discussion by Collins and Evans and Wynne of how best to understand scientific controversies, I relate their ideas to the analogous conflict that may occur within a clinical interaction. I draw upon their recognition of the importance of
contributory expertiseand interactional expertisein providing legitimate knowledge. I also draw upon Wynne's idea of the ‘negotiation of meanings’ as an important element of the clinical interaction. To resolve potential conflicts between patient and physician before they develop into ‘non‐adherence’, I propose the implementation of a new epistemological framework that recognizes legitimate knowledge offered by the patient as well as the physician. By situating this patient expertise framework within the paradigm of patient‐centred medicine, and by assuming the goal of medical treatment to be treatment of suffering, patient expertise becomes centralized as a means of determining the nature of patient suffering. Two aspects of the patient's tacit knowledge – the bodyaspect and the meaningaspect – both of which are context‐dependent and directly accessible only to the patient, are thus recognized as knowledge essential to the success of the interaction. The physician's role becomes that of both medical expert and possessor of ‘interactional expertise’, by which the physician recognizes and includes patient expertise in the treatment decision. By recognizing and incorporating the negotiation of meanings into the development of a treatment plan, this epistemological model of patient expertise should prevent cases of non‐adherence based on disagreement.