A refund for a patient's disappointing outcome?

May 16, 2008

How do I handle a patient's demand for a refund for an outcome that was less than perfect?

How do I handle a patient's demand for a refund for an outcome that was less than perfect?

If the outcome was less than the patient had reason to expect, you face the possibility of litigation. But as long as you never promised a perfect result, met the standard of care, and fully documented your discussion of the risks, benefits, and alternative treatments, it's not likely that you'd be liable.

However, if a refund is a price you're willing to pay to avoid the hassle of a lawsuit, have a medical malpractice defense attorney draft a settlement agreement. It should admit no liability, release you from all future litigation, bind the patient to confidentiality, and require him to find a new doctor. You don't want him telling others in your waiting room how he got his refund. You should also contact your liability insurer to make sure such an agreement doesn't violate any of its rules.

The answer to our reader's question was provided by James Lewis Griffith Sr., JD, Fox Rothschild, Philadelphia

Send your practice management questions to: PMQA Editor, Medical Economics, 123 Tice Blvd., Suite 300,Woodcliff Lake, NJ 07677-7664, or send an e-mail to mepractice@advanstar.com (please include your regular postal address).