Firing a Patient in Plastic Surgery

When patients seek me out for an elective cosmetic plastic surgery procedure, we both have a choice.  They are evaluating me, my credentials, my experience and my pricing.  I am seeing if they are healthy enough, evaluating the risks and benefits, and seeing if they have realistic expectations.

If we both commit, a procedure is completed.  I was told in my training that once you have operated on someone, you are “married” to them.  No matter what they say or do, they are your responsibility.  That is what I had believed until recently.

I was discussing a patient with another plastic surgeon, telling them how irresponsible the patient was, noncompliant with care, disrespectful of my staff and my time, and how I had no hope of her ever being happy or changing.  He told me to fire her as a patient.

I stood there, mouth open, and said “What?”

He told me that if a patient is healed and at no health risk, you are not obligated to keep seeing them.  You can send them a letter and let them know you will no longer take care of them.  You do not have to tolerate rudeness, lateness, or disrespect just because you did a surgery.  If there are no active issues, offer to refer them to a couple of qualified plastic surgeons if they want, and end the relationship.

Fortunately, it is much less than 1% of my patients that fall into this category, but I have a lot of patients.   I am always 100% behind my work and my patients’ needs, and I expect the same from them.  It’s nice to know I have options.