18 Rules That All Doctors Should Follow

There are certain rules that every doctor should follow, regardless of who their patient is and their treatments. Make sure to keep these rules in mind for your next visit. Here are 18 rules that all doctors should follow.  

Prioritize Patient Care

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The National Library of Medicine tells us that healthcare professionals have a duty to ensure they respect and promote the autonomy of a patient. This means providing a good standard of practice and care. Doctors should also be keeping their medical knowledge and skills up to date. 

Maintain Patient Confidentiality

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All patients have a right to privacy, and doctors should respect this. They will only disclose your personal information with your consent or when they’re legally obligated to do so. Your doctor will understand the conditions under which confidence can be breached and they can make these apparent if you ask. 

Respect Patient Decisions

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A doctor will always advise on the best course of treatment for you. But if you refuse, then they have to accept this, as it’s your body. They will always be respectful of their patients and may try to come up with alternative treatment options. 

Patient Safety

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Doctors need to keep you as safe as possible, and they’ll always act promptly if your safety is compromised. Some doctors may work with their colleagues to maintain safety standards. They may also participate in activities that help them understand how to prioritize patient safety. 

Work to Their Competence

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A doctor is not allowed to treat you if they aren’t 100% sure of how to proceed. If this happens, they’ll refer you to another doctor who may be more trained in the field that you need treatment for. Doctors are always learning, and this often means they’ll seek ways to develop professionally. 

Communicate Effectively

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Doctors know how important communication is. For example, ACOG writes, “Patient outcomes depend on successful communication. The physician who encourages open communication may obtain more complete information, enhance the prospect of a more accurate diagnosis, and facilitate appropriate counseling, thus potentially improving adherence to treatment plans that [benefit] long-term health.”

Respect Patients’ Rights and Dignity

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If there’s one thing doctors must always do, it’s treat patients with respect and dignity. They need to show empathy to patients, especially when it comes to patients’ cultural and personal values. Doctors also have to uphold a patient’s right to be involved in their care. 

Work Well With Colleagues

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Along with working well independently, doctors also need to be able to work as part of a team. They’re required to respect and support their colleagues, especially when a patient is involved. Doctors should always share their knowledge with colleagues, as some may be more experienced or have worked in the occupation for longer. 

Manage Conflicts of Interest

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If a doctor notices any potential conflicts arising, it’s their duty to manage them and stop them in their tracks. This may mean that you need to be transparent about your financial situation or personal values. However, a doctor will always prioritize their patients over their own personal gain. 

Maintain Professional Boundaries

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A doctor should always set professional boundaries with you, especially when it comes to your personal relationship with them. They will avoid relationships that could exploit or harm their patients. If doctors are unsure about boundary issues, then they need to seek advice from other doctors. 

Ensure Continuity of Care

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It’s part of a doctor’s duty to ensure the continuity of your care. This can involve follow-up appointments to see how you’re doing after treatment. They may also refer you to other healthcare providers who are able to continue your care after they’ve treated you. 

Ethical Decision-Making

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BMJ tells us there are four pillars of medical ethics, which include respect for autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice. Doctors need to follow these ethical pillars when they treat their patients. They also need to address any ethical issues by consulting with their colleagues.

Engage in Professional Development

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It’s important that all doctors continue to develop themselves professionally. This means they may take part in training activities to continue their medical education. Another way of learning for doctors is by watching their colleagues at work and learning from their experience. This can be especially useful when other doctors are more knowledgeable in other fields. 

Collaborative Practice Environment

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Doctors always need to promote a culture of respect, learning, and accountability. These factors will greatly dictate how they treat and respond to patients. One way they may do this is by collaborating with their peers, as it can be a great way to learn. 

Adhere to Legal and Regulatory Requirements

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A must for doctors is to understand and comply with their legal requirements. This means knowing their regulations and meeting all professional standards. Doctors should always stay informed when it comes to changes in health laws and ensure their professional practice always meets these standards. 

Manage Time Effectively 

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Doctors need to manage their time effectively when patients are involved. They can’t stress themselves out and then struggle to offer advice and treat their patients. They should also use the healthcare resources that are available to ensure they’re giving their patients the best care. 

Patient Experience

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Patients want a warm and welcoming experience when they enter a practice. For example, Practice Builders writes, “Today, patients are twice as likely to choose or reject a doctor on the basis of staff friendliness and attitude.” Doctors must provide this to their patients and take any patient feedback on board. 

Promote Health and Well-Being

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A doctor should always promote the health and well-being of a patient, especially if it will affect their treatment. A doctor should provide resources for aspects such as healthy eating or ensuring a person gets enough exercise. This allows patients to make informed health decisions and work on their treatment.

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