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August 25, 1999

Doctor, You've Got E-mail—Reply

Author Affiliations

Copyright 1999 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.1999

JAMA. 1999;282(8):729-731. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-282-8-jbk0825

In Reply: Two key elements of successful and ethical clinical e-mail use should be highlighted: preservation of the patient-physician relationship and respect for individual informed decision making that is at the heart of patients' rights.

In my article, I emphasized that traditional legal and ethical standards would apply to e-mail between physicians and patients. For many, interacting by e-mail seems a logical extension of communication within an already existing patient-physician relationship. As Dr Roemer points out, using e-mail for routine administrative matters might make sense, if patient, physician, and medical staff have a preexisting understanding of the previously negotiated limitations. Broader boundaries for clinical e-mail use might include expected response time, appropriate subject matter, and e-mail message retention and storage.