Angry Patients & Fees



E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Original Copyright © 2015

You work hard to help your patients and understandably are exasperated when they become angry with you. Clinical issues can cause this, but often fee disputes top the list. Poor case management and lax business practices are usually underlying, so take steps to prevent these problems from occurring.

  • Set A Clear Fee Policy

Before your patient can be clear about your fees, you have to be clear about them. Many practitioners wrestle with whether they are charging too much or too little for their time and expertise. This causes inconsistent charges and fee collection practices. Develop a fee policy statement and price list for your most common services and keep it updated. And try as best as possible to collect fees as services are rendered.

  • Discuss Fees at Intake

Don’t keep your fees a secret. Give a printed copy of your fee policy to new patients that includes the fee schedule. Add a signature line so that clients can acknowledge understanding and receipt of this information. And allocate intake time to discuss all questions and concerns about the fees to be charged and how payment is to be made. Don’t delegate this to front office staff when there are any indications that money in general, or fees in particular, are an issue. Make a point of verifying that the patient received the fee information and invite discussion of any questions or concerns. Depending upon your clinical orientation, training may dictate that you handle all money matters yourself.

  • Seek Practice Consultation

When disputes about fee payment start to surface, seek consultation promptly. Take advantage of available peer review and support. Retain a practice consultant to recommend solutions. This will help you gain an objective assessment of the contributors to the dispute and the way to diffuse and resolve it. Sometimes simply discussing the problem in session clears the impasse. And there are times when providing a refund or writing off the payment due is more prudent than getting into a power struggle or harassing collections process that can trigger a Psychology Board complaint. An objective consultation will help you consider these risk management issues. And it will help you will learn a lot about why you’re allowing patients to accumulate large balances or credit card debt, for example. This insight will help you better manage your cases and your practice in the future.

In spite of your best efforts clinically, some patients will get angry with you. Be sure that fee disputes are not the cause of this. Establish sound policies and procedures in your practice and learn how to manage patient fee issues effectively.

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About the Author:

Dr. E. Carol Webster is a clinical psychologist consultant in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
She is author of the book for those dealing with the stress of success ―
Success Management: How to Get to the Top and Keep Your Sanity Once You Get There,

The Fear of Success: Stop It From Stopping You! ―
the book to help you overcome fears that may be holding you back in your life and career
The Private Practice of Clinical Psychology in: Voices of Historical & Contemporary Black American Pioneers
To contact Dr. Webster visit online at or call 954.797.9766.

E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychology Consulting
Mailing Address: 7027 West Broward Boulevard, #262  Fort Lauderdale, FL 33317

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