Docs to Disruptive Patients: 'You're Fired'

Joe Cantlupe, August 15, 2013

A California physicians organization is finding that more doctors are dismissing patients because they are uncooperative, refuse to comply with treatment, exhibit drug-seeking behaviors, and increasingly threaten the safety of care providers.

Disruptive physicians get a lot of attention. Remember the story about the surgeon who feeling, "pushed beyond my limits" slammed down an incorrectly loaded device and accidently broke a surgical technician's finger?

Last week I wrote about toxic docs, but this week, I'm turning my attention to the disruptive patient in physician practices.

Years ago, physicians would be concerned about patients who consistently were late for appointments or simply didn't show up. Then, doctors would inform patients that they would be better off seeing someone else for care.

Essentially, the patients would be "fired." Those dismissals still go on, but most of the reasons have nothing to do with the calendar or schedule. Now, most terminations involve disruptive and threatening behavior often linked to drug abuse, says Ann Whitehead, RN, JD, the vice president of Risk Management and Patient Safety at The Cooperative of American Physicians.

Doctors own CAP, a California organization that assists physicians in risk management and other services, including dealing with disruptive patients.

See Also: Physicians Aren't the Only Problem

Doctors are dismissing patients because of "drug-seeking behavior, a request for multiple prescriptions, or a doctor identifying schedule 2 narcotics from different providers," Whitehead explains. "It's progressively getting worse, at least from looking at our call volumes. We also see more physicians being threatened than in the past."

Joe Cantlupe Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.Twitter


Facebook icon
LinkedIn icon
Twitter icon