Many doctors are working harder now than ever. Marketing and recruiting are mainstays for a successful practice. However, we all know that when you seek new patients, anyone can come through your doors. Learning the lesson that you don’t have to treat everyone who enters your realm will save you precious time, emotional strain and financial hardship. Keep in mind that it’s the 5 percent of patients who can seriously disrupt a good practice.
A good formula to follow is to look out for the potential troublemakers who may come through your door; the patients to whom you should just say “no thank you,” particularly for any personal injury cases. Remember, you are an independent professional. You can pick your location, your fees, your treatment methods, your hours and ultimately, your patients. Happy patients will make for a happy practice.
Consider the following list of troublemakers and see which ones seem to be familiar among your current or potential patients.
More importantly, listen to your front-office staff. They are often more sensitive than you to these matters. Although it may not be quite rational, just trust the force.
I strongly recommend that all personal-injury patients be required to pay decent co-pays for every visit. This is to protect the clinic, pure and simple. If an injured patient will not pay you a modest $20 for their personal-injury care at each visit, they certainly won’t be fighting to pay your whole bill when the personal-injury case is finally settled.
One example that comes to mind: a patient who very carefully explained to the chiropractor and their staff that he suffered from Gaucher’s disease, a rare genetic disease found among people of Eastern European descent. The symptoms of Gaucher’s disease can include bone pain, degeneration and fractures. Bone disease may lead to neurologic problems such as compression of the spinal cord. Of course, the doctor
was sued after only three visits. The consequences of a mistake are too high. Refer to an expert.
Of course, the next thing the gypsy does is take your bill and chart, and settle. However, they conveniently forget to pay you. You go looking for them, but of course, the gypsy patient has vanished into thin air.
Look hard at this case. Certainly, talk to the prior doctor and see what you can learn. Examine this patient carefully. There may be a strong reason why the other doctor would not take this patient.
At trial, when the doctor is asked if he always charges for adjusting his wife and children, and replies he does not do so, the case rapidly vaporizes.
“Be acutely aware if the patient always has negative things to say about all their prior doctors. You will be next on the list.”
Too many times, when you treat your spouse, in-laws, etc., especially for money, and the case doesn’t turn out well, you are one to take the blame. Think of it this way – you’ve got to deal with that resentment at every Thanksgiving dinner for the rest of your life. No good deed goes unpunished. You are hereby forewarned.
Rules to Live By
These 10 examples of the types of patients you should OPERATE YOUR PRACTICE CONTINUED FROM PAGE 18 avoid apply to everyone who provides care: doctors, lawyers, dentists and even candlestick makers. You will make your life happier and your practice more profitable by spotting these bad-news cases right away and exercising your “patient delete” button more often.
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