How to Avoid Problem Patients
One way to avoid problem patients is not to attract them to the practice in the first place. For example, offering significant discounts via Groupon, Living Social or an event might lure problem patients. In fact, Thiersch tells The Aesthetic Channel that all five of the lawsuits he was handling for medical spas at the time of his interview were with people who purchased Groupons for cosmetic treatments.
“[Shoppers] tend not to be the best patients because they’re not looking for quality in a doctor — they’re looking for price,” he says. “You just need to make sure that no matter what the environment is that you’re sticking to your protocols for how to vet problem patients.”
Thiersch says the best advice for cosmetic surgeons is to vet difficult patients before they treat them, which can be especially challenging for physicians just starting a practice.
“It’s very difficult to deal with problem patients once they get into your practice and you actually treat them, so really the only line of defense that they have is for you not to treat them in the first place,” he says. “We always advise the client that it’s not worth chasing the dollar because a problem patient is going to cost you ten times as much — in energy, attitude, atmosphere of your practice and, potentially, legal fees — as you’re going to make by treating these patients.”
Identifying these people early on is a team effort, which includes staff and doctors.
“Most of the time, doctors are busy and don’t necessarily spend as much time with patients as the staff does. The staff can really spot these things, so you have to listen to them and trust them,” he says.