Mark Ustin quoted in Part B News: You can ‘fire’ patients for just cause, but hew to a clear policy

September 07, 2023

Patient abandonment is a real ethical and, sometimes, legal issue. Mark Ustin shares his insight on the topic with Part B news:

In most cases this is “less a formal procedure than a way of ensuring you’re meeting your ethical obligations,” says Mark Ustin, a partner at Farrell Fritz P.C. in Albany, N.Y. “Medical associations routinely have a member resource as to how to do it, but there’s not necessarily a bright-line rule — if there’s an element of the [termination] letter they tell you to send that you don’t include, for example, that’s not necessarily fatal.”….

….“You want to put your reasons in writing and you want to be very clear that you’re severing the relationship, and that it’s not for reasons that are in any way inappropriate,” Ustin says. Such illegitimate reasons may be the patient’s race, gender or other protected statues under civil rights laws. In that regard, Izzo says, termination of a patient is “similar to the termination of an at-will employee” in terms of its civil rights implications (PBN 3/12/20).

Ustin adds that the notice “should include an effective date and instructions for finding another physician. You may go so far as to make a referral — though if it’s a difficult patient, you don’t necessarily want to give them the name of a specific colleague. You can certainly tell them to reach out to your local medical association.”

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Part B News | You can ‘fire’ patients for just cause, but hew to a… (decisionhealth.com)

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