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How Can Patient Abandonment Jeopardize Your Professional License?

Posted on in Medical license defense

IN licence defense lawyerPatients often see the same medical practitioner, therapist, or dentist for many years. Indeed, many practicing professionals say one of the best parts of their job is developing relationships with clients and their families over time. But another less pleasant part of the job is ending relationships with patients. While licensed practitioners can decide to stop seeing a patient for a number of legitimate reasons, the practitioner must go about ending the practitioner-patient relationship carefully because failing to do so could lead to accusations of patient abandonment. Unfortunately, a patient with whom a practitioner is most likely to need to end a relationship may also be likely to be the kind of person to become litigious. In cases like this, it is essential to have the support of an Indiana professional license defense attorney.

Why Can a Medical, Dental, or Mental Health Professional End a Relationship with a Patient?

Practitioners have to end patient relationships for many years, often to protect themselves or their practice. The reasons a practitioner-patient relationship may be terminated include:

  • The patient will not adhere to the treatment plan the practitioner prescribed
  • The patient will not comply with office policy
  • The patient subjects the practitioner or office employees to verbal abuse, physical abuse, or harassment
  • The patient uses, displays, or otherwise inappropriately handles a firearm or other weapon at the office
  • The patient cancels appointments, misses appointments, or refuses to come in for follow-up care
  • The patient refuses to pay their bill
  • The patient sexually harasses the practitioner or office employees

When a practitioner needs to end the patient relationship for these or any other reasons, he or she must make sure to do so in a way that does not subject him or her to accusations of abandonment. Practitioners need to ensure the patient has time to find another practitioner who can provide the same or similar care and provide the patient with written notice of the practitioner’s intent to terminate the relationship with the effective end date.

A practitioner-patient relationship cannot always be immediately terminated because certain conditions make it unethical for a practitioner to end a relationship. These include:

  • When a patient is in the middle of an acute phase of treatment, such as immediate treatment for a psychotic break or the period immediately prior to an urgent operation
  • When a patient cannot obtain care because of the lack of nearby practitioners
  • When a patient has subscribed to a prepaid healthcare plan
  • If a patient is in the later stages of pregnancy, especially for complicated pregnancies

Practitioners may not terminate a relationship with a patient because of the patient’s language, race, color, sex, national origin, disability, age, or any other federally protected category.

Failing to end the practitioner-patient relationship properly can lead to investigations for patient abandonment, sanctions against a practitioner’s license, and even license revocation.

Call an Indiana Medical License Defense Attorney for a Free Consultation

If you are being accused of patient abandonment and an investigation has been or may be opened, do not delay getting the help of an experienced Indianapolis, IN professional license defense attorney from The Law Offices of Joseph J. Bogdan, Inc.. We will work hard to defend your good name, reputation, and right to practice. Call us today at 463-219-2612.



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