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Dental Collections Struggles: When can you “fire” a patient?

Healthcare professionals are obliged to provide reliable, quality, and non-discriminatory treatment. But if you continually struggle with dental collections because of non-paying patients, you may have a right to dismiss those patients from your practice. Knowing when and how to do this is an important part of dental practice management. However, “firing” patients should be a last resort, taken only after you try other steps to improve your collections

At Dental Practice Enhancement, we certainly advocate for dentists to stand up for themselves and their staff. But we also recognize that dental collections are a complex and two-way issue. If you consistently struggle to collect from patients, it may be time to take a good look at your collections process. Our experts can help with training or even remote administration. 

To learn more about our services, contact Dental Practice Enhancement today.

When to Dismiss a Patient 

If you end a patient relationship prematurely or without sufficient notice, you could set yourself up for a lawsuit. A dentist has a right to terminate a patient relationship for non-payment. But you cannot suddenly cancel or deny an appointment simply on the grounds of an unpaid bill. 

Similarly, you cannot leave a patient without necessary care. For instance, if you let a patient go after implant surgery but before restoration, this would be considered unethical. Terminating a relationship with an oral cancer patient could also be considered unethical, depending on the type and level of care you provide. 

How to Dismiss a Patient 

To avoid legal liability, it is good to have a consistent process in place for patient termination

  • First have a frank discussion with your patient (in person, if possible). Alert them to the consequences of continued non-payment. Document this conversation in their records.
  • If this conversation is not effective, send a formal dismissal letter. Print it on official office stationery and request a return receipt. 
  • In the letter, provide guidance on how the patient can find a new dentist. This can be non-specific, such as advising them to check the list of providers with their insurance company.
  • Provide a release of medical records

Strategies to Try First 

“Firing” patients doesn’t feel good for anyone. And if it happens frequently, it can affect your office’s reputation and your financial stability. That’s why we encourage you to take a close look at your collections policies and implement necessary changes before resorting to this drastic step

Our experts can evaluate your dental practice management to help you determine your unique strengths and weaknesses. Then we may advise you to take certain steps, including: 

Contact Us for Help with Your Dental Collections 

To learn more about how we can help you keep your loyal clientele and remain financially secure, contact Dental Practice Enhancement today.

Reach us online or call us at (833) DPE – FOR – U.