Debate: Does your physician have the right to decline you service?

If you don't want to have your kid vaccinated, pediatricians don't have to keep you as a patient.Thornhill-based pediatrician Dr. Fatima Kamalia discharges less than one percent of her more than 3, 000 patients because they 'adamantly refuse' immunization. She told the Toronto Star that if ' [The parent's] philosophy on care is not consistent […]

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If you don’t want to have your kid vaccinated, pediatricians don’t have to keep you as a patient.

Thornhill-based pediatrician Dr. Fatima Kamalia discharges less than one percent of her more than 3, 000 patients because they ‘adamantly refuse’ immunization. She told the Toronto Star that if ‘ [The parent’s] philosophy on care is not consistent with how I practise my medicine’it’s probably better that they find a doctor who they’re comfortable with.’

Kamalia says that discharging patients is a ‘last resort’ because unvaccinated children put themselves and other patients at risk.

Any health care practitioner for that matter can decline service if you can’t come to an agreement over treatment plans.

According to the Alberta College of Pharmacists (pdf), a pharmacist has the right to terminate a relationship if the patient fails to respect professional boundaries, or if they pose a risk to pharmacy staff. It is also up to the discretion of the pharmacist if they feel comfortable administering a vaccine, or renewing your prescription if you run out of refills.

Having been employed by a community pharmacy for several years, I know that it’s always difficult to end patient relationships. The burden of knowledge lies on the health care provider to present the patient with all the relevant medical information, but ultimately it’s the patient’s decision how they wish to proceed with care.

The way I see it, health care is a service industry. Practitioners should have the right to discharge you as their patient if you are unhappy with the services they provide.

If you don’t like the haircut you just got, you go to a new hairdresser. Why not do the same with doctors?

But in light of the shortage of physicians in Canada, maybe the answer isn’t that simple.

Do physicians have the right to decline you service?

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