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How to Get Rid of a Lousy Dental Patient

How to Get Rid of a Lousy Dental Patient Image

By Olivia Wann

It may sound redundant, but we cannot please every patient we serve. Although the majority of the individuals we serve may be great patients and contribute to you having a wonderful day at work, the reality is there’s those one or two who make our lives miserable. It’s the rude, disruptive patient who has unrealistic expectations.  They don’t comply with your recommendations and then blame you for unfavorable results. They fail to keep appointments. They don’t pay their bill. And somehow you are the target.

Don’t feel like a failure. Don’t let this patient make you feel that you are not doing your job. In order for you to maintain control of your practice and your business and maintain the morale in your office, sometimes it’s best that we part company with a lousy patient. 

We suggest you follow the American Dental Association’s Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct when terminating the doctor-patient relationship in order to avoid allegations of patient abandonment. 

One, finish what you started. If you started a crown, finish it. If you started a root canal, finish it.

Prepare a written letter that addresses:

  • The reason for termination
  • The fact that you will provide emergency care (for example, 30 days until they locate a new provider)
  • Make available a copy of their records on request

We also suggest mentioning that the work you started is completed.  For example, “We prepared a crown for tooth #9 which was seated on X date.”

Be cautious of terminating a patient for non-payment if this would trigger a violation of patient abandonment.  Once again, finish what you started. I’m not implying finishing the proposed treatment plan, but finish what you initiated.

As always, consult state law.

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