AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Journal of Ethics Header

AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Virtual Mentor. January 2005, Volume 7, Number 1.

Module 1

  • e-mail |

Case 1.2: Fundamentals of the Patient-Physician Relationship—Mr. Jones Keeps Calling

Option Comparison

Option A is preferable because scheduling a follow-up appointment within two weeks demonstrates compassion for the patient's suffering and acknowledges the patient's right to bring concerns and questions to the physician. Option B— refusing to see the patient until he demonstrates compliance with the treatment plan—should be avoided because it fails to respect Mr. Jones's freedom to make decisions, and it may undermine the collaborative relationship. Option C—asking the patient to wait three months to address his concerns—should be avoided also, because it fails to provide a timely response to the patient's legitimate concerns. Option D—referring the patient to an allied health professional—is acceptable and is very often an adjunct element of the treatment plan.

Preferable: Option A

Acceptable: Option D

Avoid: Options B and C

Additional discussion and information

The people and events in this case are fictional. Resemblance to real events or to names of people, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. The viewpoints expressed on this site are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.