We are modernizing the Good Practices Guide. Learn more

Additional tips

Further insights

More good practices

Quizzical looking female physicianIn addition to the information provided throughout the Good Practices Guide, the following may also help improve care and patient satisfaction, and avoid medical-legal difficulties.

Female physician with male patient

Your demeanor

  • Be polite.
  • Dress professionally.
  • Introduce yourself and any new physicians or trainees.
  • Apologize if the patient has been waiting.
  • Try to provide your full attention to each patient. Dissatisfaction can stem from the impression that a physician is too busy, or simply does not care.
  • Don't make demeaning, insensitive or dismissive comments or joke about the patient's appearance, medical condition, and circumstances. Never use profanity.
  • Don't take your frustrations out on the patient.

For more information see patient-centred communication and being professional.

Interacting with family

  • When communicating with patients, involve family members early on (with the patient's permission).

Graphic image of dollar sign

Dealing with a lack of resources

Courts have been critical of conscious decisions by physicians not to pursue a particular course of treatment to contain costs. This is different from situations in which a physician simply cannot provide the treatment due to a lack of resources.

Explain to the patient the reasons for any delays in care.

If a patient's expectations are unrealistic, try to establish the goals of care. Explain what can and cannot be accomplished.

Respond to calls for assistance and advice when you are expected to be available or on call.

Unusual or life threatening circumstances, or the lack of immediately required resources may require you to sometimes provide care beyond your usual clinical skills. Consider whether alternatives are available.

When things are not going well

If a patient voices a concern or makes a complaint, acknowledge and thank the patient for speaking up, and take time to appropriately address any issues.

For more information see disclosure.