A fifty-five-year old man attends a trauma follow-up clinic six weeks after undergoing primary repair of a zone-II finger flexor tendon laceration. The patient has a history of substance abuse and has been noncompliant with postoperative treatment. He has not attended any postoperative outpatient or physiotherapy appointments, he removed his splint immediately on discharge, and he admits to moving the finger freely without restrictions, against advice. On examination it is evident that the patient has sustained a rupture of the tendon repair. Does the history of noncompliance with initial treatment affect decisions regarding the further management of this patient? The term compliance relates to the degree of constancy and accuracy with which an individual patient follows a prescribed treatment. Patient noncompliance is a common problem across all specialties and presents a major obstacle to safe, effective, and efficient health-care delivery. In this article, we discuss the risk factors for noncompliance, the difficult ethical and medico-legal dilemmas posed by this issue, and mechanisms for potential solutions to this common problem.