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Can your doctor “fire” you?

On Behalf of Cronin & Maxwell

Most everyone has had a doctor at some point whom they didn’t like. Sometimes patients don’t particularly respect their doctor’s opinion. Maybe they feel that their doctor doesn’t treat them with respect. Their personality might just rub a patient the wrong way. Any of those things can cause a patient to question their doctor’s diagnosis, refuse to take their advice or even get into an argument with them.

What happens if your doctor decides they don’t want to treat you anymore? Can they just tell you that you have to find a new doctor?

They can, but they have to follow the required steps. If they just leave a patient without qualified medical care, they could find themselves facing a legal claim for negligence or even a malpractice suit if they failed to begin care that a patient needed. Telling them to go to the emergency room or an urgent care facility isn’t good enough.

Florida guidance for doctors

Florida’s Board of Medicine states that a health care provider “can terminate a patient relationship at any time, but the practitioner may not abandon a patient and should provide continuity of care in accordance with the prevailing professional standard of care.” Further, the Florida Medical Association (FMA) recommends that a practitioner:

  • Give the patient written notice of their decision
  • Help the patient locate another practitioner
  • Remain available to the patient for a minimum of 30 days

If doctors don’t give their patients adequate time to find another physician before stopping needed care, they can be accused of medical abandonment.

Whether a patient can make other reasonable arrangements for their care can depend in part on where they are and what kind of care they need. If you live in a rural area of Florida, and your cardiologist is the only one within 100 miles, they can’t drop you as easily as a Jacksonville cardiologist could end a patient relationship, for example.

No matter how much a doctor might dislike a patient – and even if the patient has a lawsuit pending against them – they can’t just refuse to stop treating them without following the appropriate steps outlined here. If you believe that you were abandoned by your doctor or other health care provider. it’s wise to find out what legal options you have.

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