Primary Care Physician
Persons of every walk of life rely on the family doctor or their primary care physician to provide medical care that is in keeping with the standard of care. The relationship between the patient and the doctor might be one of the most important relationships that a person might have in their lives.
It is important those patients discuss and reveal any aspect of their history or physical condition that might impact on the course of their care or in determining a diagnosis. The family doctor takes their patient reports at face value – if a patient complains of pain in their knee the doctor assumes that the patient is telling the truth. However, this is not the whole story. It is also the family doctor's responsibility to ask the correct and appropriate questions of their patients to better illicit information to help in making a diagnosis. In not asking questions the family doctor abdicates his role as a practitioner and is negligent.
Sometimes family physicians are simply too busy to follow-up with patients and, like above, the patient has a responsibility to be his own advocate in following up with their physician. However, if a crucial test is never ordered, the results can hardly be followed up upon. In today's environment of ever-increasing complicated medicine it is the responsibility of the family doctor to ensure diagnostic tests are performed and followed up on.
It is also the responsibility of the family physician to make appropriate referrals. If a diagnosis is made and a referral to a specialist should be made, the failure to communicate this to the patient is negligence.