RISK MANAGEMENT MINUTE – Navigating Patient Trust Issues

ChiroFutures Malpractice Program
RISK MANAGEMENT MINUTE – Navigating Patient Trust Issues

Handling Difficult Patients and Maintaining Professional Integrity

In private practice, every healthcare professional encounters a broad range of patient personalities and issues. Occasionally, some situations become particularly challenging, as demonstrated by a recent situation involving Dr. Pete and his patient, Greg. This story underscores the importance of having a solid risk management strategy and a trusted malpractice insurance provider on your side.

The Patient Scenario

Dr. Pete, having had a successful doctor-patient relationship with Greg for around a decade, faced a sudden turn of events. Greg demanded that Dr. Pete write a letter to his insurance carrier with details not previously agreed upon. This disagreement became the cornerstone of a strained relationship, furthered by Greg's insinuations and lack of trust in Dr. Pete's professional judgement.

Despite Dr. Pete's attempts to clarify his findings and treatment decisions, the situation deteriorated. Trust was irreparably damaged, leading to the sad conclusion that the doctor-patient relationship could no longer continue.

Navigating Difficult Waters with ChiroFutures' Guidance

For many practitioners, making the difficult decision to dismiss a patient can be daunting. It's in these moments that having a dependable malpractice insurance provider becomes invaluable.

ChiroFutures Malpractice Insurance Program recommends the following when considering dismissing a patient:

1. Written Notice: Provide the patient with an adequate written notice (typically 30 days). This should preferably be sent via certified mail, ensuring you have proof of delivery.

2. Reason for Termination: Engage in a brief conversation explaining the reasons for ending the relationship. Document this conversation meticulously.

3. Assist in Transition: Help the patient transition by suggesting alternative care providers. This ensures you're not leaving the patient without options.

4. Medical Records Transfer: Offer to transfer medical records to the patient's new chosen provider after obtaining the required authorization.

5. Continue to Offer Emergency Care: If necessary, continue to provide care, especially if the patient is in dire need.

It's also worth noting that if you're involved with managed care, there may be additional requirements. And after dismissing a patient, make certain they are removed from all communication lists to avoid any unintentional outreach.

Key Takeaways and The Importance of a Trusted Malpractice Provider

Patient trust is the foundation of any healthcare relationship. However, when trust is lost, it's essential to act professionally, safeguarding both the patient's well-being and your own professional integrity.

In Dr. Pete's case, he followed the advised steps: he sent a certified letter outlining the reason for termination and provided alternatives. He also documented every conversation, ensuring he had a comprehensive record of interactions, crucial for legal and professional protection.

Risk management isn't just about insurance. It's about having the right guidance and advice when you need it most. In challenging scenarios like these, it becomes evident how crucial it is to have a malpractice provider like ChiroFutures to provide clarity, support, and the assurance that someone has your back.

Whether you're a seasoned practitioner or just starting, be proactive in risk management. Ensure you have a dependable partner on your side. And remember, every patient interaction is an opportunity to reinforce trust and uphold the noble ethos of healthcare.

ChiroFutures Malpractice Program