Are you up to standard? Terminating the physician-patient relationship

College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta Are You Up to Standard?, CPSA, Messenger


As highlighted in last month’s Messenger, misinformation about CPSA’s prescribing expectations has seen some chronic pain patients discharged by their primary care physicians, putting these patients’ lives at risk. Neither complexity of care, uncertainty around knowing what to do, nor fear of causing harm relieves physicians of their obligations to comply with the Standards of Practice , Code of Ethics & Professionalism and Code of Conduct.

While physicians have the right to manage their practice as they see fit, when ending care for an established patient, adherence to the Terminating the Physician-Patient Relationship standard is essential. Before terminating your relationship with any patient, consider the following:

  • Respect: recognize and respect the patient’s needs and wishes—everyone has a story and deserves the chance to tell it, be heard and be treated with dignity and care.
  • Professionalism: the patient comes first, regardless of personal feelings or fears, and deserves safe and appropriate care.
  • Compassion: patients with more complex needs are no different than any other patient and are worthy of empathy and understanding.

Where medications that fall under TPP Alberta are concerned, the priority should be helping these patients. It is always worth trying to work together to develop an agreed-upon treatment plan instead of discharging patients from your practice.

We are here to help

If you have concerns about how best to treat a patient on opioids or about your MD Snapshot-Prescribing report, there are to assist you. If you have questions related to opioid prescribing, please contact Dr. Monica Wickland-Weller, Senior Medical Advisor, at monica.wickland-weller@cpsa.ab.ca.

For information regarding your MD Snapshot-Prescribing report, please contact Karen Smilski, Pharmacist with our Continuing Competence Program, at karen.smilski@cpsa.ab.ca.

For more information on our Standards of Practice, please contact Chantelle Dick, Standards of Practice Coordinator, at chantelle.dick@cpsa.ab.ca.