Case and Commentary
Dec 2000

Ethics of Professional Courtesy

Kayhan Parsi, JD, PhD
Virtual Mentor. 2000;2(12): doi: 10.1001/virtualmentor.2000.2.12.hlaw1-0012.

Case

Dr. Friendly has been practicing pediatrics in a small city for twenty years. He has several colleagues whom he considers good friends. Recently, Dr. Friendly treated the daughter of one of his colleagues. Instead of billing for the procedure, Dr. Friendly waived his normal fee. The patient's mother, Dr. Newcomb, practices internal medicine and feels uneasy about not paying for the procedure through her insurance company. She does not want to hurt Dr. Friendly's feelings, but she thinks that professional courtesy is not required and is ethically questionable. Dr. Friendly sees it differently; he believes that the origins of professional courtesy go back as far as the Hippocratic Oath. In his opinion, professional courtesy helps in a small way to repay the debt he's incurred in learning from teachers and colleagues in medicine. Moreover, he believes that professional courtesy is something that is frequently extended in other fields; why should physicians be excluded?

What do you think?

See what the AMA Code of Medical Ethics says about this topic in:

Opinion 6.12 Forgiveness or waiver of insurance co-payments. American Medical Association. Code of Medical Ethics 2008-2009 Edition. Chicago, IL: American Medical Association; 2008:185-186.

Opinion 6.13 Professional courtesy. American Medical Association. Code of Medical Ethics 2008-2009 Edition. Chicago, IL: American Medical Association; 2008:186.

Citation

Virtual Mentor. 2000;2(12):

DOI

10.1001/virtualmentor.2000.2.12.hlaw1-0012.

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 in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.