To Charge or Not to Charge?

Can I still charge the patient if I did the procedure to the wrong tooth? Can I withhold a procedure to a patient who hasn’t paid in full? Will it make me look liable if I return a fee to a patient? We receive various questions into our claims department on a yearly basis. Here are the answers to these commonly asked questions.

I did endodontics on the wrong tooth. Can I still charge for it?

No, the implied contract here between you and the patient was to perform endodontics on another tooth. Since you did not uphold your end of the bargain, there should be no obligation for the patient to pay for this mistake on your part.

Can I refuse to insert a bridge or a crown until the patient has paid his fee in full?

No, this refusal would be abandonment. Dentists can make whatever financial arrangements the patient agrees to prior to beginning treatment, but once a tooth or teeth have been prepared and the crown or bridge is fabricated, it must be inserted to avoid any potential further damage to the patient. The dentist should insert the crown or bridge and attempt collection afterward.

If I return a fee to a patient would it be viewed as an admission of negligence?

Dentists can return fees in a manner that avoids any further liability. Simply state to the patient, and follow it up in writing, that the offer to return fees is a gesture of good will, and not an admission of any negligence.

The more you know, the more protected you and your patients will be.

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