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Can doctors fire their patients?

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Dear Doctor,

I observed a situation not too long ago where a patient acted in the most despicable manner to a doctor. He insulted the doctor and staff and then proceeded to run down the doctor in front of her patients.{{more}}

My question to you is… can a doctor fire such a patient?

Mandy

Dear Mandy,

Thanks for this excellent question. Doctors should not dismiss their patients based on gender, sexual orientation, origin, religion, colour, race, age or type of ailment. We know of patients who change their doctors due to dissatisfaction, but we seldom hear of doctors who dismiss their patients, particularly in our society.

In my humble opinion, it is only fair for a doctor to ask his or her patient to leave, under certain circumstances:

1. If the patient is extremely rude or obnoxious. This is a form of abuse. Just as no doctor should be obnoxious to their patient, the same goes for a patient.

2. Poor compliance – a lack of adherence to the doctor’s treatment recommendations. This is usually a waste of both patient’s and doctor’s precious time and there is nothing gained on the side of the patient. Of course there are situations where the patient simply cannot afford the treatment. That should be discussed.

3. Patients who constantly make appointments and cancel them at the last minute or consistently do not show up. The patient doesn’t get the required help.

4. Nonpayment of bills. This speaks for itself.

5. There are special cases where, due to the closing of a practice, sale of a practice, retirement or death when a patient may be forced to start seeing another doctor.

Good communication between doctor and patient is crucial. Here are some useful pointers for patients to improve this communication:

Before your visit:

o Make a list of your symptoms.

o Make a note of your questions and/or concerns.

o Note all of the medicines you take and/or have taken and make sure you bring them with you when you visit the doctor. Do not forget to include any vitamins, herbs or over-the-counter medicines you may be taking.

During your visit:

o Discuss your notes with your doctor. Make sure to describe and discuss your symptoms and also your concerns.

o Do not be afraid to ask questions. Ask about your medication, the tests that need to be done, surgery risks and benefits, recovery period and other treatment options (usually your doctor will tell you all this without you asking).

o Ask your doctor to go over your medicines.

o If you choose, you can take notes. Or you can have a friend or relative take notes for you.

o Honesty is the best policy. Be honest. If you forgot to take your medicine, mention it. Do not leave out information to test the doctor. Remember it’s your life. Any bit of information you provide helps you and your doctor improve your health and well being.

Dr Kenneth Onu is a resident Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Beachmont Eye Institute/Eyes R Us Send questions to: [email protected]
Tel: 784 456-1210

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