Once established, a dentist-patient relationship can only be terminated as follows:
- By mutual consent of the dentist and the patient
- Revocation by the patient
- Upon completion of the services for which the dentist was retained
- If the patient is not in the middle of a treatment, withdrawal by the dentist after reasonable notice to the patient. A dentist can be liable for patient abandonment if he or she unilaterally terminates the relationship without reasonable notice at a time when there is the necessity of continuing medical attention.
EDIC would recommend sending a letter to the patient by both registered and regular first class mail. In the letter, the dentist should state that there has been a breakdown in the doctor patient relationship, and without a good doctor patient relationship, he/she can no longer treat him/her. The dentist must also state in the letter that they will remain available for an emergency situation for a period of 30 days, and the dentist should refer the patient to the state dental society if the patient needs help in finding a new dentist.
If you are an EDIC insured, our Claims Dept would be happy to help you prepare a dismissal letter that is appropriate for your circumstances so that everything is legal, ethical, and is good for you and your patient. Just give us a call to speak to a Claims member. 800-898-3342.
There is also a recent article written by EDIC Board member Dr. Chris Salierno on dismissing a patient that may be of interest.