Can your doctor dismiss you from a family practice?
When Simon woke up one day with a sore throat, he decided to visit a nearby walk-in clinic. Several weeks later, when seeing his family doctor for a regularly scheduled visit, Simon was taken aback when she asked him not to visit walk-in clinics in future and, if he continued to do so, she may have to consider dropping him from her practice. Simon called the CPSO to ask if his doctor’s request was appropriate.
The short answer is ‘yes’, depending upon the circumstances. In Simon’s case, his family doctor is part of a Family Health Team in which physicians agree to provide enhanced access to care for a ‘roster’ of patients, including after-hours and weekend care.
Being part of a rostered practice such as a family health team has many benefits for patients, including a strengthened relationship between you and your doctor and better continuity of care. But it is very important, when signing a rostering agreement, that you and your doctor discuss and ensure understanding of your obligations and the care and access your doctor will provide under the agreement.
Of course, you have the right to seek medical care from walk-in clinics and other facilities that suit your needs. The CPSO has encouraged physicians not to de-roster or terminate a patient after a single instance of visiting a walk-in clinic, without first exploring the issue with a patient. Ideally, your doctor should ask questions to understand why you felt the need to seek outside care and, if there are issues, work with you to address them. The conversation may end with you both concluding that your lifestyle is no longer a good fit for a rostered practice or you may come to a mutual understanding about how best to seek care from your family doctor during regular and after-hours. The relationship begins with consensus and if it needs to end, it should preferably be a mutual decision as well.
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