Terminating the physician-patient relationship in office-based settings

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

There are numerous parameters around when you can discharge a patient, when you cannot discharge a patient and how to discharge a patient. These were previously outlined in a February 2012 Messenger article.

Council recently approved some important additions to this Standard after consultation. The changes are intended to clarify physicians’ obligations to current patients when relocating their practice. Here is what’s new:

  • A physician cannot discharge a patient when relocating a practice if the new practice is within a distance the patient could be reasonably expected to travel, unless:
  • the physician is changing the scope of practice and the patient no longer fits within the new scope, OR
  • the relocation occurs more than 12 months after the physician closed his/her earlier practice.

This Standard speaks to the professional responsibility you have to your patients and the relationship you’ve established with them. In this fiduciary (trust-based) relationship, you must consider and respect your patients’ interests, reasonably placing them above your own as you advocate for their health.