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

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Case 1.4: Terminating the Patient-Physician Relationship—Saying Goodbye to Mr. Jones

Option Comparison

Options C and D—writing the patient a letter stating that there appears to be a difficulty in their relationship or discussing this difficulty directly with Mr. Jones—are both acceptable. D is the preferred option because it gives Dr. Stevens and Mr. Jones the chance to discuss the nature of the difficulty, leaving open the possibility for a resolution and a continuation of the relationship. Options A and B—immediate termination of the patient-physician relationship or rejecting the request for an appointment—should be avoided because immediate termination either through implication or direct notification violates the Code of Medical Ethics.

Preferable: Option D

Acceptable: Option C

Avoided: Options A and B

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.