Physician's Right to Choose and Duty Not to Neglect
The responsibilities of a physician include not to abandon his or her patient. A patient can abandon their physician as desired but the physician cannot abandon the patient. Abandoning a patient means halting the attention and care of a patient without referral and establishment to another source of care. Physicians do have the right not to accept a patient who comes to a physician when no life or death emergency exists. Physicians also have the right to terminate a doctor-patient relationship for a number of ethical reasons including problems with personality issues, inability to follow patient requests either based on moral reasons or standards of medical practice and perhaps some others including a beginning non-professional interest between the two parties. Reasons to terminate the relationship that are not ethical might include inability of the patient to fully pay for the services rendered. Another would be to terminate care simply because the patient failed to respond to treatment and that the physician might not want an unsuccessful result to be part of his or her medical record which might discourage further aquisition of patients.
There is a whole history regarding the right of physicians to choose patients and the duty not to neglect as written in the American Medical Association's Code of Medical Ethics. The story of the Code and its revisions is presented by Faith Lagay in the September 2001 issue of Virtual Mentor. Read the article.
It would be interesting to read my visitors experiences regarding termination of relationships with their physicians or about physicians who refused to start a relationship with a visitor. Remember, no names please! ..Maurice.