Can You Discharge Patients with Unpaid Balances?

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A physician asks whether he can legally refuse treatment to a patient with an unpaid balance. Here are five legal considerations.

The following is a question from a physician reader:

Question:Can a practice legally refuse to treat a patient if they have an unpaid balance but they haven’t been officially dismissed from the practice?

Answer: This issue was touched upon in an earlier blog in which I discussed terminating a patient from your practice. In all patient challenges, the most important goal is to avoid a claim of patient abandonment and assure that patient care is not neglected. Regardless of the reason for your issues with a patient, whether it’s unpaid bills, failure to follow advice, or mistreatment of staff, the same advice applies:

About the Author

Ericka L. Adler, JD, LLM has practiced in the area of regulatory and transactional healthcare law for more than 20 years. She represents physicians and other healthcare providers across the country in their day-to-day legal needs, including contract negotiations, sale transactions, and complex joint ventures. She also works with providers on a wide variety of compliance issues such as Stark Law, Anti-Kickback Statute, and HIPAA. Ericka has been writing for Physicians Practice since 2011.