A patient-physician relationship exists when a physician serves a patient’s medical needs. Generally, the relationship is entered into by mutual consent between physician and patient (or surrogate).
However, in certain circumstances a limited patient-physician relationship may be created without the patient’s (or surrogate’s) explicit agreement. Such circumstances include:
- When a physician provides emergency care or provides care at the request of the patient’s treating physician. In these circumstances, the patient’s (or surrogate’s) agreement to the relationship is implicit.
- When a physician provides medically appropriate care for a prisoner under court order, in keeping with ethics guidance on court-initiated treatment.
- When a physician examines a patient in the context of an independent medical examination, in keeping with ethics guidance. In such situations, a limited patient-physician relationship exists.