Is it legal for a physician to discharge you from his practice for having an argument over the phoneregarding a bill?

UPDATED: Jun 11, 2011

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UPDATED: Jun 11, 2011Fact Checked

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Is it legal for a physician to discharge you from his practice for having an argument over the phoneregarding a bill?

I have been seeing this doctor for many years. I received an EOB from my insurance company as well as a bill from his office. I questioned the bill vigorously with a member of his staff and the outcome was I was sent a letter of discharge. There is no reason stated in the letter as to why the discharge but the office manager said it was due to the incident over the phone. Is this a good reason or is it patient abandonment?

Asked on June 11, 2011 under Malpractice Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

There is no such thing as patient abandonement, outside of, perhaps, an acute care situation--i.e. when a physician refuses to treat someone who has been a patient and needs treatment right then. Otherwise, doctors are, when you get down to it, business people; they do not need to serve or treat patients who are uneconomical, who are troublesome or abusive, or whom the doctors simply don't want to treat. (Doctors are private citizens; they have a right to not treat anyone they don't want to treat.) Therefore, assuming the doctor did not stop treating you when you actutely needed treatment and his failure to treat you imperiled you health, a doctor may refuse to see you as a patient--especially over a "vigorous" billing dispute.

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