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    Avoiding problem patients


    Just Say No

    It’s easier for a physician to end a potential doctor-patient relationship before it actually becomes one.

    “During the consultation process, you haven’t really established a true physician-patient relationship, so you don’t necessarily need to abide by state laws regarding discharging a patient,” Thiersch says. “If you’ve actually treated a patient and need to discharge them, there are requirements that states have regarding discharging patients, including whether you have to give them a referral.”

    Doctors should send a firm but polite message if they’re going to tell patients they won’t treat them. Thiersch says one approach is for the doctor to say he doesn’t feel qualified or isn’t the best provider to give a person the result he or she is looking for and offer a referral to someone else. Another option is for the doctor to say he doesn’t agree with what the patient wants and doesn’t think it’s in the patient’s best interest.

    “The last thing you want to do with patients like this is get into a back and forth with them, because you just can’t win with a patient like that,” he says.

    NEXT: What About Backlash?

    Lisette Hilton
    Lisette Hilton, president of Words Come Alive, has written about health care, the science and business of medicine, fitness and wellness ...


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