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How to terminate an awful patient?

 

May 9, 2013

Question:

Jennifer,

How to I terminate an awful patient I just cannot bear to see?

Thanks,
Dr. R

Answer:

Dr. R, you are entitled to terminate any patient from your practice so long as you do not "abandon" them.  Abandonment constitutes misconduct under the New York State Education law, section 6530(30).

To effectively terminate a patient appropriately: (1) you must provide proper and adequate notice to the patient (make sure to document this!); and (2) the patient must be able to secure another doctor to replace you (the latter requirement may be difficult to fulfill if your practice is located in a rural area or your specialty is unique to an area, in which case you may be forced to continue treatment). In addition the AMA recommends other steps be taken when necessary in order to ensure continuity of care, such as: providing the patient with a brief explanation for the termination, agreeing to provide treatment for a reasonable period of time to allow the patient to secure care from an alternate physician, and helping the patient find an alternate physician.  For more guidance on this topic see the AMA article, ending the patient-physician relationship.


 

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