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You and Your Doctor

Do you have a healthy relationship with your doctor?

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A relationship of mutual trust, open communication, honesty and respect is essential to ensuring you get the best health care possible. It’s in your best interest to take an active role in your health care. As a starting point, you should learn what to expect from your doctor and what your rights are.

You can expect your doctor to:

  • Always act in your best interests
  • Communicate clearly, openly, honestly and with sensitivity
  • Maintain a strictly professional relationship with you
  • Conduct physical exams and procedures in an appropriate way

You can expect your doctor to always act in your best interests:

  • Have the medical knowledge and clinical skills necessary to provide you with good health care;
  • Treat you with dignity, courtesy and respect, and without discrimination;
  • Provide a clean, safe and accessible medical office (or take reasonable steps to raise concerns when the office environment is not in the doctor’s control);
  • Always get your consent to start or stop treatment (except in some emergency situations); and
  • Keep good medical records and protect the privacy of your health information.

You have the right to:

  • Make your own decisions about your health care.
  • Ask your doctor questions.
  • Request a copy of your medical records.

You can expect your doctor to communicate clearly, openly, honestly and with sensitivity:

  • Work with you to understand your health-care needs and help determine the best course of treatment for you;
  • Give you information about all available or appropriate treatment options, even if it goes against their personal beliefs; and
  • Address any questions or concerns you may have about your health or treatment options.

You have the right to:

  • Know who is involved in your health-care, including any students or trainees.
  • Ask your doctor questions about your health and treatment options, and express any concerns.
  • Seek out a second opinion.

You can expect your doctor to maintain a professional relationship with you:

  • Never have any sexual involvement with you; this includes sexual comments and behaviour;
  • Not share inappropriate personal details about themselves;
  • Not exploit their professional relationship with you. If physicians have a dual relationship with you e.g. social or business relationship, they must consider its impact on the professional relationship; and
  • Not judge you based on your race, ethnic origin, citizenship, gender, gender identity, sexual behaviour or sexual orientation, marital status, disability or other demographics.

For more information about boundary issues, please see the Boundary Violations policy and Advice to the Profession document.

You have the right to:

  • Be treated in a professional and objective way.
  • Question anything your doctor says or does that seems unprofessional or inappropriate.

You can expect your doctor to conduct physical exams and procedures in an appropriate, respectful and professional manner:

  • Explain the reasons for the exam or procedure and what it involves, and get your consent before proceeding;
  • Give you privacy when you need to dress or undress, and provide a gown or cloth to drape yourself;
  • Only expose the areas of your body that need to be examined or treated;
  • Only touch your breasts and/or genitals when medically necessary;
  • Use gloves when performing medically necessary genital exams; and
  • Not ask or make comments about your sexual history, behaviour or performance, unless it is related to your overall health or the care being provided.

You have a right to:

  • Ask questions about the reasons for the exam or procedure.
  • Ask to have another person in the room.
  • Ask your doctor to stop if you don’t want to continue.
  • Talk to someone about an experience you had that made you feel uncomfortable.

The CPSO is here for you.