"When in the course of human events it becomes necessary… to dissolve" a dentist/patient relationship, remember that documentation is as important to your practice as the Declaration of Independence is to America. The key word here is dissolve. To dissolve a relationship is perfectly legal and, at times, necessary. However, to abandon is neither.
Before breaking up with a patient from your practice, you must be certain that they have been admitted properly. We cannot stress enough the importance of new patient registration forms, especially a patients' rights and responsibilities, and a financial policy detailing your office's policy for payment. Keep up to date and executed copies of all documentation in the patient's file, along with detailed descriptions of any and all attempts to resolve disputes.
A well written termination letter is paramount in avoiding litigation. Your reason for separation may embody one or more situations involving behavior from your patient such as:
- Failure to uphold financial obligations
- Rude and/or disruptive or illegal behavior
- Unwillingness to follow a recommended course of treatment
- Excessive missed appointments
- Failure to provide a truthful health history
In such circumstances, it is vital to ensure that the proper documentation is drawn up and the following steps are taken:
- Mail the letter certified, return-receipt (and retain the receipt for postage)
- Send a second certified letter if the first one is returned
- In addition to the above, send notification by regular mail
- Offer services for a 30-45-day period for emergencies only (to allow sufficient time for the patient to find another dentist)
- Let the recipient know that you are concerned about their oral health care and urge them to seek the services of another provider
- Offer to release records when requested, in writing, along with a signed release of information form (include one in your dismissal letter)
Do you have questions or concerns about patient dismissal, or need tips on what to do before and during the process? Contact a member of your Solstice Benefits team – we can help!