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Law : Physician-Patient Relationship Contract Assignment Help

You are working as the manager of a multispecialty clinic. You have been notified that a patient has filed a lawsuit against one of your physicians that has terminated a relationship with a patient. Executive management has asked you to prepare a memo to describe whether a patient can make a successful claim for a breach of contract in this case. Discuss whether the physician-patient relationship is a contract and what needs to be shown for a breach of contract to have occurred.

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This memorandum outlines the basic legal approach for dealing with a breach of contract on a patient against a physician. When a physician fails to fulfil the contractual obligation, the patient is liable to file the case of “breach of contract”. 

It is essential for any optimal treatment outcome to maintain a positive physician and patient relationship. The conditions according to the regulatory guidelines, in which the physician holds a right to terminate the relationship with the patient, includes: rude behaviour, abusive behaviour, non-compliance with the treatment plan, drug-seeking behaviour, and not paying for services (by the patient). Additionally, when the physician finds that the behaviour of the patient is completely opposite to the mutually agreed treatment plan, then it is ethically permitted to inform the patient that they are unable to provide any further help and is withdrawing from this case. In such a situation, the patient cannot claim for a breach of contract against the physician (Solinger, Hofmans, Bal, & Jansen, 2016). A relationship can be maintained with mutual respect and understanding from both parties. 

Moreover, the physician needs to follow a proper procedure for terminating the relationship with the patient as per the laws and regulations of the medical board. According to the Code of medical ethics by the American Medical Association (ASA), a physician is free to select whom to treat and not to treat (Garvey, Mechanick, Brett, Garber, and Hurley, 2016). However, once the relationship is established, then the physician needs to abide by the rules and provide them the requisite care along with the consent of the patient. On the basis of given information, the discontinuation of relationship between both the parties will not be considered as a breach of contract. 

In this given scenario, it can be clearly inferred that there exists a sense of distrust and lack of understanding between the physician and the patient. As a result, the physician in our multi-specialty clinic is forced to terminate the relationship with the patient. Based on personal discussion with the physician, it was found that the physician has given a relevant reason in an appropriate notice to the patient, prior to the discontinuation of the contract. Following this, a legal notice has also been communicated with the client, detailing the risk associated with continuing the care plan. The objective of such communication approach was to prevent the patient from coming back to the clinic and asking the physician about the specific reason for termination. With reference to the conditions detailed in the above section, the patient is not liable to file a clause in conjunction with the breach of contract, in such a situation. For a safe part, our physician has shared the documentation of notification in the form of a certified letter, along with a return receipt. This strategy will be helpful to counter-attack the patient if there a false allegation of insufficient or no notice of termination. 

However, there exists a limitation in such a case of a lawsuit. In particular, a physician is bound to provide medical care to the patient for a period of a maximum of 30 days from the day of issuing a termination letter. This time period is defined as the reasonable number of days required by the patient to find a new physician. The physician or clinic can also assist in finding a new doctor and thereby transferring all the medical reports of that patient to the new one (Gulacti, Lok, Hatipoglu, & Polat, 2016). According to the ASA law, the terminating physician needs to continue to provide emergency care as well as refill the prescription as per the requirement of the patient for these 30 days (Garvey et al, 2016). If the physician is the only available doctor for the patient for a specific specialty within a reasonable distance, then also the doctor need to continue the treatment process until a new doctor is found, which may sometimes extend for more than 30 days. Thus, the physician should intimate the patient about the termination before sufficient time for making an arrangement for alternative care; which has been followed precisely in the present case scenario. In some emergency cases, when the patient is suffering from a terminal illness, then direct termination is not allowed what identification should make arrangements for transfer of care to another physician. However, in this contract, no such issue was found. This will avoid a lapse in the continuity of patient care.  If the physician does not follow any of these rules of medical treatment for the specific patient, then the patient can claim “breach of contract” (Carter, Courtney, & Tolhurst, 2017). Based on the detailed justification, the present case cannot be considered as a breach of such liabilities. 

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