|July 2006 · Vol. 18, No. 7
How to divorce a difficult patient and live happily ever after
An orderly dismissal does not discriminate, does not abandon the patient—and does help avert legal problems
Document the details on no-shows—they may sue and claim Abandonment when their medical condition becomes serious
An angry patient is more likely to sue, especially if she was unaware of your reason for dismissal
is a Fellow, American College of Medical Practice Executives, and a Certified Professional Coder
You need not despair if you’re confronted with a patient who disrupts your practice. You have every right to discharge her. But once a physician-patient relationship is established, you must terminate the relationship officially, to end your obligation. An orderly dismissal does not abandon your patient, and minimizes potential for legal problems.
Although difficult patients may be uncommon in your practice, it is unwise to give no thought to the possibility, and to have no plan to handle the situation. Protect yourself and your practice by following a consistent path with difficult patients, and seek legal counsel when faced with an unusual situation.