Can an orthontist dismiss patient?

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Can an orthontist dismiss patient?

My daughter has been going to an orthodontist since April 2017. Spring 2018, we fell behind and weren’t able to make the full payments they wanted due to unforseen circumstances. They were accepting what we were giving them, but also made efforts to get more. My husband is the one that is/was in charge of that.

My daugther’s last appointment was June 2018. While there, I was cornered by one of the staff and asked to go upfront. They asked if I could make a payment that day. I told I wasn’t the one to do this and to please call my husband. After treatment that day, we left with no incident. She was to return in 8 weeks and I turned that responsibility also over to my husband.

In July, they accepted two payments from us.

She was to be seen in September and the appointment was made. They called at some point before that appointment and rescheduled for October due to an office conflict.

The morning of that appointment, they called my husband and told him we weren’t going to be treated any longer. They told him that, ‘We do work with families with finance issues’ but then also stated that it appears that I, the patient’s mother, did a ‘scathing review’ online and that I, as the patient’s mother, was belligerent in the office on that day in June when my daughter was last seen and that ‘the whole office heard’. They told my husband that if I could take down the review, they would reconsider.

I never wrote a review about this office. I never was belligerent in their office. I didn’t have a reason to be belligerent in their office. The front desk person picked up the phone at that point and called my husband. If I was that ‘belligerent’ as they claim, why weren’t we escorted out of their office? Why were we permitted to make subsequent appointments? Why wasn’t this addressed 4 months prior?? Because it didn’t happen. We did not receive anything in writing and they left my daughter with a mouth full of metal.

We visited a new orthodontist yesterday. Moving to them would be a complete ‘start-over’. That means, a new set of braces she still has her old ones on and a new bill of 5200. Our insurance company has already paid the first orthodontist and we will not be covered again. One of my daughter’s teeth also has reverted back to it’s old position due to lack of treatment in 4 months.

I am completely beside myself with this. I am guessing they resorted to slander in order to create a more legit reason to dismiss office safety. They simply needed a concrete reason and they didn’t want to bother with us when we couldn’t financially didn’t fit their needs.

I am not disputing we owe them money. We have applied for a hardship grant that is offered through an employer and will be available within the next 30-60 days so if it comes down to it, we will have that to move to a new orthodontist, but I am sickened about this. Slander and complete disregard for the patient. They didn’t even offer to remove them for her and that could result in further damage.

We contacted our state’s dental association who told us he cannot refuse to see her mid-treatment due to financial issues. I do not know if that is a condition of being a member of them or if it is actual law. We are in Michigan.

Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much

Asked on October 10, 2018 under Malpractice Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If you fell behind on payments, they could stop treating you for that reason alone: a dentist or orthodontist is not a charity and is not required to work for free or to extend loans, credit, or subsidies, either directly or by working without pay, to its patients. You or your husband would not keep working at a job where you were not being paid (or maybe you might personally choose to, because you would hope things will get better, but you would not have to keep working there; working without pay would be 100% voluntary and you could refuse to do so); similarly, an orthodontist does not have to take your financial issues into consideration and provide their services without being paid for them. You admit that you owe them money; that is the reason they do not need to keep seeing or treating your family.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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