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When patients owe you money


Can a physician withhold treatment of a long term patient due to nonpayment?

Q. Can a physician withhold treatment of a long term patient due to nonpayment?

A. Yes, you can withhold treatment-if you do it right. You should try to talk to the patient first. Don't use appointments as a bill collection technique, give the patient proper notice, and treat emergencies in the interim. After that, you can consider bill collection.

Lee Johnson, a healthcare attorney in Mount Kisco, NY, specializes in risk management issues. She can be contacted at 914-666-4301or

The answer to this query is a general opinion and is not intended as a substitute for legal advice. You should not rely on this reply in making decisions involvingquestions of law, but should instead consult with competent legal counsel.

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