Patients Who Damage Property Just Another Part of Private Practice

March 5, 2012

From toilets to automobiles, what do you do when a patient damages property: accidentally or otherwise?

The first time it happened, we tried to plunge the toilet, failed, and called in a plumber who was able to unclog it.

The second time? Same thing.

The cost for each visit, about $300. This time, we tried to plunge it. We bought a snake and tried that and failed. Then, we had the plumber come in. He snaked it. He removed the toilet. He worked for a couple of hours, said he needed to get more tools, but it was the end of the day, so he would have to come back the next morning. He brought help, and they worked in the crawl space for half a day and finally fixed the problem. I’m not sure how much this is going to cost me, but I suspect upwards of $1,000.

Because of what? Because despite signs that say "please do not flush paper towels, sanitary pads, or trash down the toilet," someone flushed a big wad of paper towels. We think we know who, but of course, we have no proof. It is very suspicious though that it seems to happen every three months, on the day that this particular patient comes. I now plan on spending another $1,000 or so to purchase and install a hand dryer.

And remember the patient who scratched my staff member’s car? That day, she said she would pay for the damage. Well, it turns out, she has changed her mind. It isn’t going to be pleasant. What do I do with her? She has an appointment set up for a few weeks from now. Technically, she hasn’t complained to me or about me, although she apparently told my staff that she told “the board” that she was treated very poorly the last time she was here. Do I keep her as a patient? Do we remind her of her appointment, or just see if she shows up?

What do you do when patients damage property, accidentally or otherwise? I suppose, most of the time, you suck it up and deal with the issue.

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