Q&A: Can I fire veterinary clients who won't pay?
Q&A: When you can fire a client who won't pay for services
Firing a client can be done painlessly, provided you prepare properly, says Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Dr. Karl Salzsieder, JD, owner of Salzsieder Consulting and Legal Services in Longview, Wash.
According to the AVMA Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics, veterinarians and clients both have the right to establish or decline a veterinary-client relationship and to decide treatment. And if the client declines further care or declines to pay, the relationship may be terminated by either party.
So if you can't get the client to comply with your policy, then fire the client—in person at the time. This presumes you have a hospital policy—preferably written—that states you do not offer charge accounts. The policy is important, because laws state that you can't discriminate between clients when it comes to charge accounts, other than for credit reasons.
Also, before firing the client, be sure you've provided continuity of care on a given case. The ethics code mandates that once you begin patient care, you must continue to provide professional services for that injury or illness "within the previously agreed limits." Stabilize emergency patients—even without payment. Verify that the client won't pay for continued medical care. And check your state's veterinary practice act to identify any additional regulations.