Physician Patient Relationship Law and Legal Definition

The physician-patient relationship is regarded as a fiduciary relationship, in which mutual trust and confidence are essential. A physician is held to a standard of medical care defined by the accepted standards of practice in his or her area of practice. Some of the obligations of a physician's duty of due care include the obligation to fully inform the patient of his or her condition, to continue to provide for medical care once the physician-patient relationship has been established, to refer the patient to a specialist, if necessary, and to obtain the patient's informed consent to the medical treatment or operation. Confidentiality laws protect the physician-patient relationship and the patient's consent must be obtained before medical records may be released.

Some courts will not impose a duty on a physician without a contract for the benefit of the patient or some affirmative act on the part of a physician. Generally, a contract or an affirmative act on the part of the physician must exist before a legal duty arises.

Once the physician-patient has been established, it continues until it is ended by the consent of the parties or revoked by the dismissal of the physician, or until the physician's services are no longer needed. Without proper notice of withdrawal, affording the patient ample opportunity to seek alternative care, the physician's termination of services to the patient could be held to be an abandonment, subjecting the physician to the charge of negligence and liability to the patient for any damages proximately caused by such negligence.

Physician-Patient Relationship can be defined as "a consensual relationship in which the patient knowingly seeks the physician's assistance and in which the physician knowingly accepts the person as a patient." QT, Inc. v. Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33668 (N.D. Ill. May 15, 2006)