Patient guide to doctors’ key duties

  • Date: 23 April 2013

A GUIDE for patients on what they should expect from their doctor has been published by the General Medical Council.

What to expect from your doctor: a guide for patients explains that doctors must act quickly if they think a patient’s “safety, dignity or comfort is being compromised” and advises patients to inform a doctor, nurse or other health professional if they become aware of any safety risks.

It advises patients to ask for clarification if they are struggling to understand what the doctor is telling them, including technical words or jargon.

It goes on to say that doctors must be open and honest if something has gone wrong with the care or treatment provided, adding: “They will explain what has happened and apologise where appropriate.”

The guide is based on the GMC’s core guidance Good Medical Practice and explains how patients can “help create a partnership with your doctor.” It covers key topics such as patient safety, dignity and respect in the patient-doctor relationship and the standard of conduct, knowledge and skills doctors should achieve.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said: “Much of the new guide is common sense, but we know that patients get the most benefit when they are able to work in partnership with their doctors. We hope it will prove useful and help foster stronger relationships between doctors and patients - based on a clear understanding of their respective responsibilities.”

The guide has been welcomed by the Patients Association.

Chief executive Katherine Murphy said: “We firmly believe that the patient needs to be at the centre of a doctor’s practice, and this guide is a useful tool to assist clinicians in achieving that goal. It also provides useful information to patients about what behaviour, support and assistance they should reasonably expect from their doctor.”


What to expect from your doctor: a guide for patients

This page was correct at the time of publication. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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