Terminating a Doctor/ Patient Relationship - Part 2

As we spoke about in part one of our series- Terminating a Doctor/ Patient Relationship 1, Medical and Healthcare professionals truly face distinctive risks. Doctors depend on their Medical Indemnity Insurance, to protect them and keep their practice safe.

In Part 1, we explained the issues that arise when deciding to terminate a client. Part 2 is about what to do after you have made your decision. Here are the most important steps to take when moving forward and to protect yourself against Medical Malpractice claims.

  1. Document non compliance. Don’t defend your termination based on your memory. All events of non compliance be recorded at the time that you become aware of that non compliance
  2. Do not delegate to staff. The only way to be certain that termination is done correctly is for you to do it.
  3. Write a letter to the patient setting out your decision. Your letter should use language that reflects concern about the patient’s welfare.
  4. Be careful about referral. As a general rule of thumb, it is always best to refer the patient to an appropriate medical professional.

Your letter should include at least the following:

  • The effective date of termination
  • Reason for ending the relationship
  • Suggestions for continued care through local medic groups, nearby hospitals, or community resources
  • Offer to provide a copy of the medical record by enclosing an authorisation document with your letter to be returned to the office with the patient’s signature
  • Remind the patient that follow-up and continued medical care is now the patient’s responsibility and that both should be pursued

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Medical Practice Insurance in Australia

Terminating the doctor-patient relationship can be a difficult process. We are here to help and protect you during this process. Medical Practice Insurance in Australia is a complex area of insurance requiring the skill and expertise of an experienced Medical Indemnity Insurer.

This publication is general in nature and is not comprehensive or constitute legal or medical advice. You should seek legal, medical or other professional advice before relying on any content, and practice proper clinical decision making with regard to individual circumstances. Persons implementing any recommendations contained in this publication must exercise their own independent skill or judgment or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular practice. Compliance with any recommendations will not in any way guarantee discharge of the duty of care owed to patients and others coming into contact with the health professional or practice. Tego Insurance Pty Ltd is not responsible to you or anyone else for any loss su­ffered in connection with the use of this information.