Dental Practice Management: How To Deal With Patients Who Refuse To Pay?

Written by Dr.Ganeshkumar Maurya


It’s not new in India that some patients get their complete treatment done and then refuse to pay the treatment charges or the pending treatment charges remaining at the end. I feel sorry for such patients and their thought process who consider that all doctors are always behind money. These patients account for around 1-5% of the total footfalls in your clinic but leave a very negative and a discouraging impact on you as you could do nothing but let that patient walk away freely and subsequently you start losing trust and suspecting your loyal and genuine patients too and become overcautious and strict regarding the payment protocol which can make some of your patients believe that you are a complete money minded person worsening the already deteriorating doctor patient relationship..

Why should I feel embarrassed about making money, as it’s an important factor for enhancing self worth and only when I’m secure, I can give back my 100% to my profession. No, I have not forgotten that I am in one of the Nobel professions but does that mean that I should mix Nobility with Financial Returns.? Something to ponder upon...

 

Now How To Deal With Such Patients Legally?

We can definitely take legal action against a patient who refuses to pay the due amount after the completion of treatment. To start with the proceedings...we all know that our judiciary relies only and only on evidences.

So Before You Proceed; Make Sure You Have Enough Evidence To Prove That...

 

1. PATIENT HAD AGREED TO TREATMENT PLAN AND TREATMENT CHARGES

You must have evidence like records and documents of the patients work done as per the scheduled appointments..Valid consent form, fitness certificate in case of medically compromised patients..pictures taken during the course of treatment..CCTV record or an audio record of the time when/where patient agreed to payment plan along with his sign on the proposed payment plan....

The more you have the listed above evidences with you..the more stronger your case becomes and lesser will be the loopholes that the patient can find to contradict you..


2. YOU HAD REMINDED THE PATIENT MULTIPLE TIMES ABOUT PENDING DUES

Always before filing a legal suit you should have evidences to prove that you had reminded the patient multiple times which should not be by verbal warnings which can't be produced in court of law but by calls (better if they are recorded) messages & mails or post sent through your mobile or the clinic system.


3. YOU HAD ATTEMPTED TO CONSIDER PART PAYMENTS:

You should have evidences to prove that attempts have been made by you to consider part payments if patient have any genuine financial problems.


4. YOU HAD GIVEN A TIMEFRAME TO MAKE DUE PAYMENTS:

You should have evidences in the form of mail or message or document that can be reproduced in court to prove that you had given deadline to patient to pay the amount and have even informed the patient that failing to which you will file a law suit against him.

This evidence holds a greater importance and makes your stand stronger.


What If Patient Does Not Pay Even After Above Exercise? 

Then Here’s The Legal Treatment Plan:

The first and foremost thing is to present all the documents and records regarding his treatment procedure to the nearest police station with a sincere request to file an FIR. The police officials will take down your complain and will first try to help us out and solve our problem. They might send their junior staff or the beat Marshall who patrols that particular area to the patient and would bring him in front of you.

Most of the times patient falls to this and will pay remaining treatment charges as sight of a police man coming to his home and taking him to police station with neighbors looking upon is not a good sight for any person. So your matter is sorted out without filing a lawsuit against him...


Now What If The Patient Doesn’t Pay Even After Police Interference...

Police however has no right to extort money from the patient. Then they will file an FIR and will tell u to draft a complaint with the Small Claims Court in your area or Civil Trial Court based on the money to be recovered.

In Small Claims Courts quick decisions are taken at nominal charges whereas Civil Trial Courts are time consuming and relatively expensive as you will require a lawyer to handle your case and multiple trails to follow...

Remember in any of the scenes you must have valid evidences that I have mentioned earlier.

 

At last, I Would Say Prevention Is Better Than Cure. Better Not To Place Yourself In Such Situation…

Asking complete advance payment is legally right but not completing the treatment due to nonpayment is legally wrong on your part...

Also the amount of money in question matters...whether it’s worth enough to go ahead and file a suit or learn from your mistakes and move on...

 

About Author

Dr.Ganesh Kumar Maurya

Dr.Ganesh has completed his BDS from VSPM Dental College and currently he is practicing in Mumbai. He also holds Post Graduate Diploma in Medico Legal Systems which gives him authority to write on such sensitive & complex subject.



Responses

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Dr.Aditi Aggarwal16 Jul 2016

This can happen only in India! Thank you for your suggestions, I'll definitely keep them in mind if I ever face such a situation. Go to http://www.draditiaggarwal.com/fixteeth.html to book an appointment for all your dental problems.

Reply to Dr.Aditi


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