Duties to the Patient

Communicating with Patients and Others

Good communication is a fundamental component of a trusting doctor-patient relationship. Communications with patients, their families, colleagues, and other health care professionals should always reflect civility and professionalism.

Physicians should ensure that patients are appropriately informed about their medical care. All communication with patients should recognize an individual patient’s autonomy and demonstrate a collaborative approach to patient decision-making.

Physicians should demonstrate cultural sensitivity in their communication with patients and families.

Physicians should demonstrate an awareness of their own values and how their values relate to or differ from those of their patients and families.

While communicating with compassion and engendering the trust of patients are vital to the doctor-patient relationship, physicians should also be aware of boundary issues and the potential for transference in the doctor-patient relationship.

Should conflict arise, either between the physician and patient, or the patient’s family, the physician should work with the patient, the patient’s family (if the patient consents) and any other supports to resolve the conflict respectfully. However, if the patient wishes to limit the information available to family or even other health care professionals who are also providing care, the physician must respect that decision.

In communications with the community at large, physicians must ensure that representations they make are, to the best of their knowledge, truthful.

Physicians should participate in educating patients and colleagues to ensure that medical knowledge is appropriately conveyed to facilitate health promotion and disease prevention.  

Relevant Policies, Publications and Resources

Advertising Regulation under the Medicine Act

Boundaries Self-Assessment Tool

Complementary Medicine

Consent to Medical Treatment

Decision-making for the End of Life

Disclosure of Harm

Ending the Physician-Patient Relationship

Maintaining Appropriate Boundaries and Preventing Sexual Abuse

Medical Records

Practice Management Considerations for Physicians Who Cease to Practise, Take an Extended Leaeve of Absence or Close Their Practice Due to Relocation

Prescribing Drugs

Test Results Management