Dismissing a Patient

Have you ever thought about having to dismiss a patient from care? Most doctors don’t, and in fact just the opposite. They want to know how to get more new patients not dismiss one.

Dismissing a patient from care is not an easy decision, but it is likely that from time to time, you will need to dismiss a patient from care at your office. Maybe the patient is being non-compliant or the patient needs medical services beyond what you are able to offer.

Regardless of the reason, here are some things to keep in mind when doing so.

If the patient needs services you cannot provide and you need to refer them to another practitioner or specialty, you want to meet with the patient, discuss your concerns, the reason for the referral and do your best to maintain a relationship with the patient. Make sure that you document any such meeting.

If you decide that you need to dismiss the patient from care for non-compliance or any other issues, make sure the reasons are documented in your notes. It is best to note these issues at the time that they occur, but if you have not done that, you can add an addendum with the current date, detailing any issues.

Now that your notes are in order and everything is properly documented, send the patient a certified letter, return receipt requested informing the patient that you are terminating the chiropractor-patient relationship.

In order to avoid claims of patient abandonment, you will usually want to offer to continue treatment for up to 30 days to give the patient time to obtain another provider. In your letter, you should also inform the patient that your office will, of course, give this new provider a copy of your medical records at their request. You can then detail how the patient can request those records.

If you participate in managed care, there may be additional requirements for dismissing a patient. Check with any managed care organization you participate in to determine if any additional steps, such as warning letters, are required.

Once you have dismissed a patient, be sure to remove that patient from all mailing lists and email lists so that you avoid inadvertently contacting that patient again.

Dismissing a patient from care is never an easy decision. Regulations can vary state to state, so make sure to also reach out to your state’s chiropractic board and chiropractic association for the most up to date information on state specific regulations.

Dismissing a patient can present a unique set of legal circumstances and challenges, so you can also call our experienced legal team here at NCC when you need legal advice. We’re here to help you.