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    When it’s time to part ways with a patient

    Physicians legally may discharge a patient for any nondiscriminatory reason, but termination is not without pitfalls. Experts offer some tips on avoiding them.

    Michael Navratil, a malpractice attorney with John Cotton and Associates, recommends terminating a patient formally, in a letter.

    “Make sure you have a paper trail of what you’ve done,” Navratil said. “Make that letter as nice as you can and as professional as you can. Make sure that you convey to them that you’re willing to assist them—you’re willing to refer them to somebody else—and just that it’s time for the relationship to end. You’ve reached a point where you can’t care for them anymore. But you’ll do what you can to facilitate the transfer.”

    Related: Solving problem patients

    Terri Wojak, president of True U Education, who provides advanced education for health care professionals and presented “The Crazy Ones: How to Identify, Weed Out and End Relationships with Bad Patients” at the 2018 Medical Spa Show in Las Vegas, said patient terminations can be like a divorce.

    “Sometimes, you have to divorce patients,” Wojak said.

    Wojak recommends urologists have such patients sign a form that they won’t slander the urologist or the office. Urologists should also schedule exit appointments with especially angry patients during slow times and make sure they get into private rooms right away, to avoid contact with other patients.

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    Lisette Hilton
    Lisette Hilton, president of Words Come Alive, has written about health care, the science and business of medicine, fitness and wellness ...


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