When Patients Won’t Pay


At the Institute for Podiatric Excellence and Development (IPED) we get to hear all the ups and downs of podiatric practice from our members. Some are new practitioners just starting out and others are veterans who have been in the field for years. They all agree, however, that one of the most difficult situations podiatric professionals face is when a patient refuses to pay for medical services rendered. 

Below are some suggestions for how to deal with this difficult situation:

Con or Dissatisfied Patient

The first step is to determine the cause for non-payment. If payment is more than 60 days overdue, call the patient to confirm that you have their correct address. Ask why the payment has not been made. If the reason for non-payment is dissatisfaction with the care he or she received or the outcome, skip to the next paragraph. If no concrete reason is given, you may be the victim of serial fraud. Some patients who refuse to pay are professional scam artists. A little background checking will most likely reveal that you are not the first medical practice that this person has refused to pay.

If, however, the patient who is not paying is not a known fraud and says they are not paying because they have a disagreement with the foot doctor or the treatment or the office protocol, it’s time to start investigating. Ask the patient what they are dissatisfied with. What’s of primary importance here is restoring a trusting relationship. Follow these steps to get to the root of the problem:

  • Start by telling the patient you value your relationship with him or her and that it’s important to you to find out why the patient is dissatisfied and to have a chance to correct the problem.
  • Ask the patient to help you better understand the problem.
  • Listen.
  • Next, ask yourself: Does the patient’s claim have merit? Can this problem be fixed?

Inform your patient of what you are attempting to do to correct the problem as they have relayed it to you. If the complaint does not seem resolvable, release the patient to another practice. Still continue to attempt to collect on the payment. 

Bringing podiatric professionals at all stages of their careers together to share information and exchange information about the field is one of the primary goals of IPED. If you would like to learn more about other benefits of membership and how to join, contact us at: 978-296-7634. Our Executive Director, Ruth Ann Donahue, will be happy to speak with you.