Responding to a terminated patient's demands

April 18, 2008

I recently discharged a patient who repeatedly abused his medications by taking more than I prescribed, although I didn't state this in the termination letter. But now he insists that we give a reason, in writing, and wants to schedule an exit interview. How should we handle his demands?

I recently discharged a patient who repeatedly abused his medications by taking more than I prescribed, although I didn't state this in the termination letter. But now he insists that we give a reason, in writing, and wants to schedule an exit interview. How should we handle his demands?

If he continues to request a written explanation, simply state that he was dismissed "for failing to maintain an effective doctor-patient relationship." You don't have to say anything more, and you have no obligation to conduct an exit interview. It's necessary to follow the rules for proper discharge, of course, to avoid a charge of abandonment. You're required to give written notice, recommend other sources of care, and see the patient in the event of an emergency for a reasonable period of time-typically 30 days-while he looks for another doctor.

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).