You can refer a patient to a specialist, but you cannot force the patient to go. Thoroughly documenting the referral protects you from liability.
“If they have made the referral and explained to the patient why they are making it and documented that, it’s really the patient’s responsibility to make the appointment and follow up with the doctor,” says Whitehead.
Next time you see the patient in your office, ask why he or she didn’t see the specialist and document the answer, she adds. This “closes the loop” on the referral.
Hertz advises that when a patient’s problem is urgent, someone on your staff should set up an appointment with the specialist while the patient is still in your office. If the problem is important but not critical, your office can provide the names of several potential specialists and let the patient choose which one to see.