Professional Standards


The shortage of family physicians has created a situation where it has become a rarity for a patient to be newly accepted into a practice. Such an opportunity may only occur once, if at all.  Consequently, the approach a physician takes when accepting additional patients must be viewed very strictly.  Improper rejection of a patient can create an unacceptable level of harm. 

1. A physician who is accepting patients on anything other than a "first come first served basis" must establish criteria for patient selection based on matters relevant to the physician's scope of medical practice. There should be few reasons to refuse a patient based on clinical scope for a family physician.

2. The physician must not refuse to accept the patient because of complex care, requiring more documentation, or requiring more time.

3. Physicians may depart from the first come first served approach in order to accept family members of an existing patient.

4. It is acceptable for a physician to arrange for another healthcare provider to treat the patient if the arrangement is acceptable to the patient and the other healthcare provider

5. A physician's criteria for acceptance must not include any prohibited ground of discrimination, including age, gender, marital status, medical condition, national or ethnic origin, physical or mental disability, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status.

6. A physician must inform a potential patient of his or her medical practice limitations, restrictions, and selection criteria prior to accepting that person as a patient, preferably before the introductory visit.

7. The College cautions against requiring or asking prospective patients to fill out medical questionnaires until they have been accepted as patients, as this practice may be viewed as discriminatory.

8. A physician must advise a potential patient in advance when an introductory appointment (so called “meet and greet”) is not a medical appointment. The appointment may not be used to review medical history or otherwise provide medical services. Thus, it is not an insurable service nor one for which a direct charge can be made.

9. When a person is not accepted as a patient in a physician's medical practice, the physician must advise the person of the reasons unless disclosure of the reasons could be expected to:

                              a) result in immediate and grave harm to that person’s mental or physical health or safety,

                              b) threaten the mental health and physical health or safety of another individual, or

                              c) pose a threat to public safety.

10. A physician who treats injuries in the usual course of the physician's medical practice must not refuse to treat a person with injuries sustained under circumstances that may require the physician to prepare and provide additional documentation or reports.

11. A physician must provide care to a person in an urgent medical situation when no other physician is immediately available.

12. Information collected for the purposes of screening prospective patients must be collected, disclosed and retained in accordance with relevant privacy legislation and the College's requirements.   


Based on the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta

11/13, 11/20