How to Create Collegiality in a Difference of Opinion: Part 1

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Neil Baum, MD

Clinical Associate Professor of Urology, Tulane Medical School, New Orleans, LA

Author, Marketing Your Clinical Practice-Ethically, Effectively, and Economically, Jones Bartlett Publishers


Almost every physician has been asked to see a patient for a second opinion. By far most opinions are in agreement with the first opinion. But what do you do if the patient wishes to switch to your practice after hearing your opinion? If you take over the care of the patient, you are at risk of alienating your colleague and creating ill will. Also, when the situation is reversed and one of your patients sees your colleague, you can be sure that you will never see that patient again. Far better, if you are in agreement with the colleague’s opinion, send your colleague a note and state that you will be returning the patient to his or her care. An example is shown below.

Bottom line: We need to get along with our colleagues, and returning a patient is one of the best ways to solidify that relationship with your fellow physicians.

Letter Sample:

Dear Dr. ______,
I have seen ____ for a problem of ______. I told him that I was in agreement with your decision to ______. I also told him that he was in very good hands, and I suggested that he make a follow-up appointment to proceed with your plan of action. If there is anything else you need from me, please don’t hesitate to give me a call or send me a note.
Dr. _____