• Patient Referrals

    The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) supports physicians and patients in making personal and professional choices regarding their access in healthcare.


    Patients should have reasonable freedom to select their physicians, other clinicians, and healthcare settings. Importantly, whenever making a choice, patients and caregivers must be well-informed on the options available and possible effects of, and responsibilities involved with, each option. To this end, all medical and pharmacy plans should, to the fullest extent possible, provide transparency regarding:

    • coverage;
    • network, including expertise, credentials and quality of care of participating clinicians;
    • restrictions on patient access to services or goods; and
    • price and patients’ financial responsibility (including premium, deductible, and copayments)

    Special circumstances may render limitations on choice; however, such circumstances should be clearly explained and free from coercion.


    Physicians should have reasonable freedom in the context of patient values, evidence-based care, quality, and value, to determine where and how to provide ethical medical care and where to refer patients. It is the AAFP's position that any physician receiving a referral has a professional responsibility for the development of the patient care plan and quality of care the patient receives even when aspects of care are delivered y another member of the care team.  (1985) (2020 COD)