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Dismissing a patient from your practice (without getting sued)

On Behalf of | Nov 10, 2023 | Medical Malpractice Defense |

As a physician, you want to help all your patients – but some patients either don’t want to be helped or make it impossible for you to properly do your job. 

A patient who’s non-compliant, disruptive or threatening to you or your staff can put your license to practice at risk. As unfortunate as the situation may be, dismissing a patient from your practice is an occasional reality with which you have to contend. 

How do you fire a patient without getting sued?

It’s important to not let the emotional aspects of the situation take over because you don’t want to be accused of patient abandonment. Here are some tips: 

  1. Have clearly defined office policies: Your patients need to be aware of the limits when it comes to making their co-payments, abusive or threatening behavior to the staff, chronic noncompliance with medical treatments, no-call/no-show appointments and anything else that might be relevant to your practice. That helps avoid complaints that they were uninformed of the consequences of certain actions.
  2. Document everything: You don’t want to dismiss a patient without having clear documentation in your files. Whether the patient has a chronic history of no-shows and noncompliance or there’s a single incident that provokes their dismissal, you want clear and comprehensive records if a legal question is raised.
  3. Follow the appropriate policies: You have to give your patient a sufficient opportunity to transfer their care to someone else. Make sure that your practice manager reviews their file and ensures all the office policies and ethical considerations are met and the patient is properly notified.

An angry patient can be a litigious patient. If you’re accused of malpractice due to patient abandonment, it’s never too early to explore your defense. 


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