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An August 24 article in Part B News, “You can ‘fire’ patients for just cause, but hew to a clear policy,” explained how healthcare providers can legally and ethically refuse service to a patient. Rivkin Radler partner Frank Izzo was quoted in the article.

Although healthcare facilities usually get into legal hot water for abandoning patients because they close without giving their patients sufficient notice, patient abandonment may also get added to a malpractice claim, especially if the service provider stops contacting a patient after the alleged malpractice happened. “If the plaintiff is arguing that the breaking of the continuity of care resulted in whatever the malpractice was or contributed to, or was associated with the malpractice, they can legitimately bring that claim of abandonment,” Frank said.

Firing a patient can be done in a manner that protects the facility. “Practitioners should be familiar with their local state laws to see if there are additional criteria that might be something to do with professional misconduct,” Frank said. He also recommends checking payer contracts, which sometimes have restrictions on patient dismissals.

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