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Medical Ethics/Patient's right to communicate with his doctor by fax.

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Question
If a patient can never get through to his doctor by phone to speak to him directly about important medical concerns, doesn't he have the right to fax him? One doctor who decided to discharge an elderly, disabled person from his care ( with no good reason) said in his discharge letter of 7/16/13 ( a certified letter that wasn't received until 7/19/13) that he would be available for 30 days for emergency needs. But when the patient, a disabled, bedridden person,  had an urgent letter faxed to his doctor on 08/08/13 about the need to refill an important pain prescription, the doctor deliberately disregarded the letter because it was a fax, and said the prescription would have to be filled by a new provider of the patient's choice, knowing full well that the patient has no new provider at this time. To give you an idea of the seriousness of the patient's severe chronic pain circumstances ( without sharing the patient's name or other private information): degenerative disk disease, diabetic neuropathic pain, postoperative pain due to steel cords in his rib cage following open heart surgery), diagnosed osteoarthritis, diagnosed polymyalgia rheumatica, Parkinsonís Disease, right shoulder enthesopathy ( broken rotator cuff injury incurred from a fall a few years ago), neck pain and immobility observed by a neurologist during an in-person consultation.  Left shoulder and upper arm pain. The doctor has been fully aware of these circumstances, but refused to go beyond his own "comfort level" as far as treating the patient's pain.

Answer
Alex,

A patient does not have a "right" to communicate by fax with the doctor; however, a patient does have an ethical right to have continuity of care with the physician.  I suggest the patient submit a claim with the board of medical examiner that the patient was abandoned by the physician.

Very truly yours,

Paul D. Friedman, M.A., Ph.D., J.D.

Medical Ethics

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Paul D. Friedman, M.A., Ph.D., J.D.

Expertise

In addition to my law degree, I have a master's degree in bioethics and a doctorate of philosophy involving comparative medical, legal and business ethics. I am an adjunct professor at a medical school teaching ethics to healthcare professionals and graduate students.

I can answer questions dealing with general ethics principles, including medical ethics, research ethics and bioethics. I am not a moralist and do not interject subjective values such as what is morally right and wrong. Also, I do not give legal advice over the internet.

For more information, you can view my webiste at WWW.EXPERTETHICS.COM

Experience

I have been a civil trial attorney since 1989 with a masters degree in bioethics and a doctorate of philosophy involving comparative ethics.

Organizations
State Bar of Arizona
State Bar of Colorado (inactive)
District of Columbia Bar (inactive)
Federal Bar
Licensed in the Arizona District Court
Licensed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
licensed in the United States Supreme Court
American Bar Association
American Association for Justice
Arizona Trial Lawyers Association
American Society for Bioethics and Humanities
Kennedy Institute of Ethics


Publications
A list of my copyrighted publications and presentations is contained at WWW.EXPERTETHICS.COM

Education/Credentials
Bachelor of Arts 1985
Juris Doctorate 1989
Master of Arts in Bioethics 2004
Doctorate in Philosophy 2006

Awards and Honors
Phi Beta Kappa
Multiple Who's Who
Outstanding Achievement Award in Bioethics from Midwestern University

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