What Is a Doctor Legally Required To Do

Excerpts from: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.

A doctor is NOT legally required to:

  • Treat you, under varying circumstances. Doctors in private practice — who do not receive public funding via programs like Medicare — can refuse to treat a patient, although they are still subject to federal anti-discrimination laws. Doctors who receive public funding are subject to different rules in different states. Many states allow doctors to refuse treatment to a patient exhibiting threatening or dangerous behavior. Some grant doctors the right to refuse treatment on moral grounds. Hospitals cannot deny treatment to anyone who is facing a life threatening emergency, or on the basis of a person’s race, faith, age or sexual orientation. But some church-affiliated hospitals use their code of ethics to justify refusing a treatment that challenges their religious beliefs — even in the case of emergency treatment.  – From Seeker.com.
  • Restore your health.
  • Make a correct diagnosis.
  • Guarantee the result of any treatment or operation. A guarantee of a “cure” may constitute fraud.

 A doctor IS legally required to:

  • Provide a certain standard of skill and care to their existing patients. The legal duty of care is created when a physician agrees to treat a patient who has requested his or her services.
  • Obtain prior consent of a patient. There exists a duty to obtain prior consent (with respect to living patients) on the part of doctors and hospitals for the purpose of diagnosis, diagnostic tests,  treatment, therapeutic management, organ transplant, research purposes, disclosure of medical records, and teaching and medico-legal purposes.
  • Use similar care, skill, judgment, and due diligence in treating patients that peers in the same specialty use.
  • Stay informed of the best methods of diagnosis and treatment.
  • Perform to the best of his or her ability, whether or not he or she is to receive a fee.
  • Furnish complete information and instructions to the patient about diagnoses, options, methods of treatment, and fees for services.
  • Treat patients during a pandemic.

Patients have the right to:

  • Choose a physician, although some managed care plans may limit choices.
  • Terminate a physician’s services if they wish.

Updated Oct. 22, 2018.


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