Neil H. Baum, MD, presented “Terminating the Doctor-Patient Relationship” for the Grand Rounds in Urology audience in July 2020.

How to cite: Baum, Neil H. Terminating the Doctor-Patient Relationship” July 2020. Accessed Aug 2020. https://grandroundsinurology.com/terminating-the-doctor-patient-relationship/

Terminating the Doctor-Patient Relationship – Summary:

GRU Contributing Editor Neil H. Baum, MD, Clinical Professor of Urology at Tulane Medical School in New Orleans, Louisiana, discusses how to go about terminating a doctor-patient relationship. It may not happen frequently, but at least 90% of doctors have had to end a doctor-patient relationship at least once and it can be a sensitive situation that is important to get right. Dr. Baum explains what doctors should not do before discussing the correct protocols to follow. Dr. Baum lists five common reasons for termination, including abusive behavior, noncompliance, deception to obtain drugs, chronic no-shows, and failure to pay bills. He emphasizes the need to document everything and discusses who to inform when terminating a relationship. Dr. Baum also uses a case study to highlight the importance of formally terminating the relationship in writing and emphasizes that not doing this can leave a doctor open to litigation. 

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SAMPLE TERMINATION LETTER

Dear (PATIENT): 

I am using this letter to formally notify you that I will no longer be your physician because (REASON). 

Sample language for reason: 

  • You have consistently failed to follow my advice and recommendations. 
  • You have consistently failed to come in for scheduled appointments. 
  • You have not followed through with arrangements to pay the balance due on your account. 
  • There are significant philosophical differences in our views of medical care and treatment. 

This letter is to advise you that I will no longer be available to provide medical services to you after (FUTURE DATE ALLOWING PATIENT REASONABLE TIME TO FIND ANOTHER PHYSICIAN). I will, however, be available to treat you until (DATE FROM ABOVE), so that you will have access to care while you choose another physician. I encourage you to select a physician promptly and place yourself under his/her care.  My office will forward a copy of your medical record to your new physician upon your written request. 

It is important for you to continue with treatment because of your current medical condition; therefore, I encourage you to select a physician promptly and place yourself under his/her care. If you need assistance in obtaining the names and addresses of local physicians, I suggest that you contact the local medical society.   (NAME, ADDRESS, AND TELEPHONE NUMBER) 

Very truly yours, 

Signature

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For more commentary from Dr. Baum, visit his Improving Your Urology Practice page.