Unfortunately, you could get sued by another patient if your patient refuses to wear a mask.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused a lot of changes in daily lives across the country. Now, many states, including Michigan, require masks to be worn in public and in businesses.
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One question we have received over and over, is how should practices respond to patients and patient companions who refuse to wear masks?
Many practices are understandably worried about facing state fines or lawsuits from other patients.
When patients refuse to wear masks, it can threaten your practice.
However, some physicians are also concerned about telling patients who refuse to wear masks to leave, as they don’t want to abandon that patient.
So what should you do to protect your practice from lawsuits and fines?
First, when patients call to make appointments, have your staff tell them that masks are required to be worn while in the office. If your office calls to confirm appointments, reiterate the necessity of wearing a mask.
If a patient voices a concern about wearing a mask, let them know it is required, and if they are unwilling, they will need to have a telehealth appointment instead.
Next, have extra masks at your office, in case someone forgets to bring theirs.
If a patient comes in with a companion who is not wearing a mask, you may ask the companion to put on a mask or leave, wait outside, etc.
If a patient is refusing to wear a mask, it is unlikely to be considered patient abandonment if you ask them to wear a mask to receive care.
If they refuse, and don’t have an urgent medical issue, you should ask them to leave and to call the office for a telehealth appointment or to schedule an appointment after the pandemic.
If other patients are put at risk by a patient without a mask, it could lead to lawsuits.
And when in doubt, call your healthcare attorney for advice.
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