What should I do if a patient isn’t satisfied with the quality of treatment and wants a refund ?

You can certainly stand behind your work and deny a request for a refund. Refunds are typically justified only when you have been overpaid either by the patient's insurer or by the patient through excessive copayments. However, many dentists accommodate such patient requests, either to maintain good relations with the patient or to avoid lawsuits or other actions. If you decide to honor the refund request, have the patient sign a release agreeing to release, indemnify and hold you harmless from any claim related to the dental care in question. The release should also state that you have agreed to resolve a disputed claim and it may not be construed as an admission of liability. The release should specify that it is a release of any and all claims, whether known or unknown, and the patient waives his or her right under California Civil Code 1542, which precludes the release of unknown claims. Ask your liability insurance carrier or an attorney for an appropriate form to use.

When settling such a claim, do not forget the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB). If a written demand claims malpractice and payment is made through an entity's account (as opposed to your personal funds), there may be a duty to self-report the settlement to the data bank. There are very specific rules for what must be reported to the data bank depending on the facts in a particular case.

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