Ensuring follow-up care


Fam Pract Manag. 2008 Sep-Oct;15(8):14.

While the response from Alice Gosfield, JD, to the legal question “Do we have a legal obligation to ensure that our patients receive necessary follow-up care?” [Practice Pearls, April 2008] is legally correct, it is clinically inappropriate.

The answer given was essentially, “If you do a good job of telling your patients when to return and documenting appropriately, your legal obligation is fulfilled.”

The problem with the answer is that we are not supposed to be about fulfilling the strict minimum legal requirements; we are supposed to be about taking care of patients. The ethical obligation of an aspiring medical home is to reach out to patients who are due for follow-up and remind them. And if they miss a follow-up appointment, remind them again. This is an ethical duty we owe our patients that is beyond any legal obligation.


Copyright © 2008 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact fpmserv@aafp.org for copyright questions and/or permission requests.

Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions


Mar-Apr 2018

Access the latest issue
of FPM journal

Read the Issue

FPM E-Newsletter

Sign up to receive FPM's free, weekly e-newsletter, "Quick Tips & Insights."

Sign Up Now


Helping Your Adolescent and Young Adult Patients Get the Preventive Care and Services They Need

The Adolescent Health Consortium Project has clarified clinical preventive service recommendations for adolescents and young adults.

Making Sense of MACRA: Navigate Changes to the Quality Payment Program in 2018

Here's how to succeed in the four performance categories of the Merit-based Incentive Payment System.