DISRUPTIVE PATIENTS- What to do?

A physician, who is a client of the firm, recently asked for our assistance in dealing with a new patient who already had disrupted the practice. Because of the disruption caused by this patient during their first encounter with the practice, the physician decided they did not want to run the risk of taking on this patient and having them further disrupt the practice. The physician reached out to us at the time the patient arrived for their initial appointment.

I recommended that, because the patient was already at the office, the physician should do three things:

  1. (i) Determine whether there is a contract between the practice and that patient’s payer and, if there is, what are the terms under which a physician can decline to treat a patient;
  2. (ii) Provide treatment in order to avoid the possibility that the patient needed emergent care or an allegation of patient abandonment; and
  3. (iii) Deliver written notice to the patient that the practice declined to treat this individual on an ongoing basis and that the patient has thirty (30) days (or whatever the contractually mandated period is) to locate another physician.

Unfortunately, everyone who comes to a physician for treatment is not polite, well mannered, and compliant. Sometimes a patient (whether new or ongoing) is rude, disrespectful, non-compliant or otherwise disruptive to the practice. Medical practices do not like to terminate patients, but sometimes it is necessary in order to maintain the smooth operation of the practice and the well being of its employees and other patients.

If you are having difficulty dealing with disruptive patients, or any other matter involving your practice, please feel free to reach out to me.

By Stephen H. Siegel