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Refusing to treat non-paying patient okay?

July 11, 2013

Question:

Jennifer,

Can a doctor (in private practice) refuse to see a patient that refuses to pay either his co-pay or if uninsured, refuses to pay at all?

Thanks,
Dr. R

Answer:

Depends on the circumstances.  If the patient is an existing patient with a  follow up appointment or emergency situation requiring immediate assistance, yes you may have an obligation to treat regardless of payment.  However, assuming there are no continuity of care issues due to necessity and the patient has ample time to seek medical treatment elsewhere, you are not required to treat and private patient refusing to adhere to your office policy, i.e., refusing to execute you required forms, pay required payments, etc. 

For more info on a related topic, click here to reread how to terminate an awful patient.
 


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