Patient Responsibility for Follow-Up of Diagnosis and Treatment

Health care is a partnership in which the physician and the patient both have responsibilities. It is the physician's responsibility, in consultation with the patient, to arrive at a diagnosis, to inform the patient of that diagnosis in a manner that is understandable and culturally sensitive to the patient, to identify treatment options, to recommend a therapeutic plan, and to explain the importance of any recommended follow-up. It is the patient's responsibility to assist his or her physician in arriving at the diagnosis by providing a complete and accurate history and by undergoing appropriate and personally acceptable examinations, diagnostic testing, and follow-up visits. It is also the patient's responsibility to ask questions when he or she does not understand and to clearly communicate his or her perceptions of health and illness in the process. Once the diagnosis and course of treatment have been established and agreed upon collaboratively, it is the patient's responsibility to follow the agreed upon treatment plan and to return as advised for ongoing assessments of health, illness, and treatment outcomes.

In some jurisdictions, courts and government bodies have defined what constitutes adequate physician follow-up. Physicians should be aware of the specific requirements in their jurisdictions. (1995) (Board September 2011)