Patients

Discharged Patient Wants to Make an Appointment

Considerations when a discharged patients want to keep already scheduled appointments or make new appointments with the physician or clinician.


When a discharged patient wants to make an appointment, one of the most important factors is a determination of the patient’s status with your practice. To avoid potential allegations of patient abandonment, some considerations include:

    • Is the patient still under follow-up care due to a recent hospitalization or surgery you performed?

    • Does the patient have any acute or emergent medical conditions that require attention?

    • Is the patient on any chronic medications that require an office visit in order to obtain a refill?

    • Does the patient have an ongoing, chronic disease process that is unstable or characterized by acute flare-ups?

Under select circumstances, such as the patient exhibiting violent or threatening behavior to you or your staff, the letter sent to the patient may have indicated the termination was immediate. Did the letter indicate you would continue to see the patient for the next 30 days for any care needs or did it limit the circumstances under which you would see the patient such as for emergency care and already scheduled appointments?

Ultimately, it is a physician’s decision to terminate the physician-patient relationship and there is no definitive answer for all scenarios. Utilizing sound professional judgement based on the individual situation and documenting your thought process clearly is vital. If you ultimately decide not to see the patient for their routine check-up as requested by the patient in the 30-day termination period, the medical record, the patient’s condition, and the termination letter should support that decision. If the patient or their representative challenges the termination in some manner, such as a report to the Medical Board, the documentation in the patient’s chart will be your key defense.

This type of patient situation can be frustrating and time-consuming, but the time spent in constructing an appropriate discharge will be your best defense should the need arise.


The content of this publication or presentation is intended for educational purposes only; is not an official position statement of Mutual Insurance Company of Arizona (MICA); and should not be considered or relied upon as professional, medical, or legal advice or as a substitute for your professional judgment. Consult your attorney about your individual situation and the applicable laws. The authors, presenters, and editors made a reasonable effort to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of publication or presentation but do not warrant or guarantee accuracy, completeness, or currency of such information. As medical and legal information is constantly changing and evolving, check for updated information and consult your attorney before making decisions.

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