This is a really intriguing article, from yesterday's New York Times. Do you agree with this doctor that he has the right to dismiss a child as patient because the patient's parent has a dramatically different care philosophy from his own?
Here's the heart of the argument:
The physician-patient compact basically states that a doctor will care for a patient in exchange for compensation and that the patient will heed the doctor’s advice. Patients who disagree with their physicians, or just dislike them, are free to go elsewhere.
By the same token, this mutual contract gives a doctor the right to dismiss a patient. The most obvious reasons are failing to pay or missing multiple appointments. Refusing to adhere to treatments can lead to dismissal. So can being abusive to the medical staff.
Of course, we need to exercise this option sensibly. Doctors cannot fire a patient in dire straits like severe pain, bleeding or a life-threatening situation. And of course, we cannot refuse to see patients because of their race, age, sexual orientation and so on.
But could I fire a patient because I didn’t like his mother? Colleagues who had studied the ethics and legal issues told me that the answer wasn’t clear-cut. Obviously, I couldn’t just abandon them. Yet like a lot of legal jargon, the word “abandonment” is open to interpretation. I decided it meant that as long as I wasn’t leaving anyone out to dry with a serious, immediate medical problem, that I gave a patient reasonable notice and provided options about where to continue getting care, I was within my rights.