When running a practice, the practitioner may be presented with the situation where a patient becomes so dissatisfied or so unhappy with their treatment that they ultimately threaten to file a lawsuit against them.
Although there is always a risk of litigation, it is common practice for practitioners to become upset or even frustrated when faced with this possibility. The best way to handle this situation is to make sure the patient knows you have their best interest at heart.
If the patient feels they are being taken care of, that their thoughts and concerns are being taken seriously, and that you are listening to them, the patient may reconsider filing a lawsuit.
If the patient still insists on suing, you can try to reason with the patient, explaining the treatment and risks/benefits again. Often times, even offering a partial or full refund for the services rendered will satisfy the patient. Should the patient accept any refund for the treatment, the practitioner is best protected by having the patient sign a general release. The general release will absolve:
- the practitioner;
- the practice;
- their independent contractors;
- their employees; and
- everyone and anyone associated with the practice
…from all claims the patient may have against them for all treatment that was rendered for the time period in which they were treated. It is also recommended to include information that states the patient cannot contact any state agency or publish any derogatory remarks regarding the settlement or the treatment rendered.
Will a general release completely defeat any aspect of a lawsuit? Not necessarily, but the general release can be used as evidence to show that the patient has already released the practitioner and practice. If the release is valid, written legally and properly, with the patient’s notarized signature, the release should significantly decrease the chances of a lawsuit or dismiss the lawsuit outright.
Keep in mind that each case should be treated individually, separate and apart from any others. Do your best to diminish the emotional aspect of the disagreement and to quickly resolve the matter so that all parties can walk away reasonably happy and satisfied.
How has your practice fared in terms of patient complaints? What measures did you take to address them?
Stephanie J. Rodin, Esq.
Rodin Legal, P.C.
Tel: (917) 345-8972
Fax: (917) 591-4428