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Defending Against Accusations of Patient Abandonment in Illinois

Posted on in Medical License Defense

b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_178157129-min.jpgWhen you own or are part of a medical practice, you may have long-term patients who have been coming to you for their healthcare needs for years. You may also have patients who are only short-term – maybe they move away and that means changing physicians, or your practice is no longer covered under their health insurance plan, or maybe they just decide to change doctors. However, there may be the occasion where you yourself decide you need to end a relationship with one of your patients. While you may think that you have every right to choose who you take on as patients and who you do not, how you terminate a patient relationship may result in accusations of patient abandonment.

Terminating a Patient

There are a number of valid reasons why a doctor may make the decision to end a relationship with a patient:

  • They consistently do not show up for appointments.

  • They show up at appointments under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

  • They refuse to follow any of the medical advice their doctor has instructed them on.

  • They have not paid their medical bills or tried to make arrangements in months.

Although a doctor is within their right to terminate a relationship with a patient without the patient’s consent as long as they have valid grounds, there are specific steps they should take in order to ensure they will not be charged with patient abandonment should the patient decide to file a complaint with the Medical Board.

A doctor can be accused of patient abandonment if they do not do both of the following:

  • Provide the patient a notice in writing that they are terminating the relationship and discontinuing medical treatment.

  • Provide the patient with a reasonable time to obtain another doctor.

If the Medical Board finds the patient’s complaint of abandonment a valid one, the doctor can face probation, suspension, or revocation of their medical license.

If you do find it necessary to terminate a patient relationship, the written notice you send them should include:

  • The last day that the patient will be able to obtain medical care from your practice, providing at least 30 days in order to ensure the patient has options for emergency treatment and/or medication prescriptions.

  • Provide the patient with the process by which they can obtain their medical records from your office, including all contact information of the appropriate personnel.

  • Provide the patient with some options of alternative sources of medical care.

Contact an Illinois Professional License Defense Lawyer

If you are considering terminating a relationship with a patient or have been accused of patient abandonment for already doing so, contact an Illinois medical license defense attorney at The Law Offices of Joseph J. Bogdan, LLC to find out how we can help. Call 630-310-1267 today to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

Sources:

https://www.physiciansweekly.com/avoiding-patient-abandonment-proper-termination

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=1309&ChapterID=24

 

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