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THE PHYSICIAN'S RIGHTS

  1. FULL DISCLOSURE BY THE PATIENT OF ALL DATA PERTINENT TO THE PRESENTING COMPLAINTS. 
    Only with full information can the physician request certain tests, make a diagnosis, and recommend treatment in an intelligent and informed way.

  2. HAVE ADEQUATE TIME FOR A FULL PATIENT EVALUATION AND NECESSARY TESTS BEFORE MAKING A DIAGNOSIS OR STARTING THERAPY. 
    When you call for an appointment, the doctor may be booked up for days in advance. You will be scheduled for a time that will allow a full evaluation to be done. It is unfair to yourself and to other scheduled patients to demand to be seen sooner. If you have severe pain or serious symptoms, let the doctor's office know and you will be seen as an emergency. Tests or follow-up visits may be scheduled up to a few weeks in advance. Before the test results are in, the doctor may not have enough information to make a diagnosis or start therapy; it takes time to receive test results.

  3. PROMPT NOTIFICATION OF WORSENING OR CHANGE IN SYMPTOMS, REACTIONS TO MEDICATIONS, OR OTHER HEALTH-RELATED ITEMS.
     It is often impossible for the doctor to predict in advance any adverse side-effects or directions your illness make take. To ensure appropriate therapy and treatment, you must maintain a good line of communication with your doctor.

  4. ACT PROFESSIONALLY IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE PATIENT.
     Sometimes, what the patient wants and what the doctor thinks is in the patient's best interest are different. Don't expect the doctor to do something that he feels is morally wrong, professionally compromising, or illegal, or which he feels may harm you. If such a conflict arises, it is usually best for the doctor to withdraw from your care or for you to find another doctor who's ideas are more in line with your own.

  5. WITHDRAW FROM THE CARE OF A PATIENT WITH WHOM A PERSONALITY CONFLICT OR EMOTIONAL INVOLVEMENT EXISTS OR WHO REFUSES TO FOLLOW HIS RECOMMENDATIONS.
     Doctors can experience feelings or anger or unresolvable personality conflicts with patients. Or the doctor may feel he is becoming too emotionally involved in a case or is unable to deliver care objectively. Noncompliance by a patient may also cause feelings of frustration and anger which may make it impossible for the doctor to deliver good care. The physician has the same rights as the patient to end an unsatisfactory relationship which no longer serves either party. If, however, the physician decides to sever a relationship, he should offer to arrange for continuing care by another physician for urgent problems, at least temporarily, and make available the medical records.

  6. EFFICIENT USE OF TIME. 
    Doctors schedule patients closely and often are heavily booked. Just as you would expect someone visiting you for a specific reason to come prepared, you should organize your thoughts, think about the specifics of your symptoms, and carefully write down your questions about your problem. Not only does this make time spent with the doctor more efficient, your thoughts and questions are also organized, and you are more likely to gain a better understanding of your illness. You will remember more of what your doctor tells you and will make fewer phone calls between visits for clarification.

  7. RECEIVE PROMPT PAYMENT FOR SERVICES. 
    Nothing can destroy a relationship as quickly as hassles over money. You should obtain information in advance about the projected fees; once you know the charges and have decided to use the services of the doctor, you have the same obligation as you would at the grocery story to pay promptly. The physician, in turn, has bills to pay. Often physicians will adjust fees according to the person's ability to pay and will also assist in filing (or actually submit) insurance claims for you.

  8. BE FREE FROM PATIENT RESPONSIBILITY WHEN NOT IN THE OFFICE OR ON CALL.
     The doctor has a personal life. When he is not in the office or on call, he is off duty and you should respect that. It is unfair to expect the doctor to be available for you at night, on weekends, and at other private times. To calm your fears about his covering physicians when he is not available, ask to meet and talk with them. Your medical records should be available to the covering physicians if you have an emergent problem.

© 2003 California Hepatitis Resource Center