Q. What is the best way to avoid a billing dispute?
A. Fee disputes and collection actions can be prime triggering mechanisms for dissatisfied patients to file a malpractice claim.
When patients complain about their bills, they are sometimes actually angry or dissatisfied with the physician. Employees who handle billing questions should receive training in responding to patients. They need to be sensitive to patients’ potential underlying dissatisfaction and have appropriate tools for documenting patient complaints.
Develop procedures to ensure that any complaints regarding a physician are brought to the physician’s attention. The following suggestions apply to billing and collection practices:
- Discuss fees with patients in advance of treatment to prevent disputes and misunderstandings.
- When unusual circumstances occur, involve the physician in billing and collection decisions.
- Ask the physician to review patient records before sending them to a collections agency.
- Do not place correspondence regarding billing and collection in the patient’s medical record.
Physicians often forgive medical bills when patients have unanticipated results or unsatisfactory outcomes or treatments. Some patients will refrain from bringing a malpractice action once their bills are waived. However, there is no guarantee these patients won’t file claims. If they do, such refunds or waivers may be viewed as evidence of medical negligence.
For these reasons, it is important that you contact ProAssurance before granting any refunds, fee reductions or waivers for patients dissatisfied with their medical care.
Physicians insured by ProAssurance may contact our Risk Resource department for prompt answers to liability questions by calling (844) 223-9648 or via email.