Patient dismissal

Guidelines for Practice Success | Managing Patients | Patient Relations

Sometimes it’s best for a dentist and patient to part ways. In these cases, this is because there’s some friction that can’t be resolved or a difference in philosophies of care.

  • The dentist has the right to dismiss a patient in situations where it is impossible to resolve differences or if the dentist cannot abide the patient’s behavior within the practice, as long as the dismissal is not for a legally impermissible discriminatory reason.
  • Consult the appropriate state laws and your state dental practice act to determine any requirements about dismissing a patient, including how many days you need to be available to that patient in case of an emergency.
  • Handle every patient dismissal cordially and professionally. It should never become personal.
  • Develop a template for a dismissal letter. Fill in the details about the cause for the release objectively and advise the patient of the need to find another provider. Also detail the number of days you will be available to treat the patient in the event of an emergency.
  • Conduct regular audits of patient records to determine whether problem patients are seen on a regular basis.
  • While you should document all communications with patients in their record, including phone calls, it’s especially important that you do this when dismissing a patient. That type of information, while considered a best practice in any situation, can be especially helpful in dismissal cases that can become emotionally charged.

Additional Resources:

Sample Patient Dismissal Letters (PDF)