How to Protect Your License When Terminating Doctor/Patient Relationship


When a doctor-patient relationship is established, a doctor generally has the right to end the relationship without the patient’s consent. A doctor, however, may not terminate a doctor-patient relationship for a discriminatory reason. Also, once a doctor decides to end a doctor-patient relationship, he or she must take specific steps that are required by the Medical Board of California (MBC), or the doctor may face a claim of patient abandonment. The MBC defines patient abandonment as:

  • Terminating the care of a patient without written notice that the treatment is being ended, and
  • Terminating the care of a patient before the patient has had a reasonable chance to seek care from another doctor.

 Note: If a patient consents to the termination of the doctor-patient relationship, then they cannot be considered abandoned under California law. If you are facing an allegation of patient abandonment, it is crucial to seek the advice of an experienced California doctor’s license defense attorney.


If a doctor decides to end a doctor-patient relationship without the patient’s consent, then the potential for a claim of abandonment cannot be ignored. The following situations are some of the most common which have resulted in claims of patient abandonment:

  • A doctor closing his or her practice without properly notifying all patients;
  • A doctor refusing to see a patient who owes him or her money;
  • A doctor refusing to see a patient who gives him or her difficulties without properly ending the doctor-patient relationship; and
  • A doctor ending a doctor-patient relationship with a patient who is actively being treated without allowing them to secure care from a different doctor.

These are not all of the reasons why patients claim abandonment by any means. Any scenario that can cause a patient harm due to a doctor’s impatience or lack of attention can result in a claim of abandonment, resulting in discipline against your doctor’s license. If the MBC is investigating you for a potential claim of abandonment, it is important to seek proper legal help immediately. The MBC has the power to suspend or even revoke your license to practice medicine if you are accused of unethical or unprofessional conduct during the course of care for a patient. If you have received a call or a letter from the MBC related to your professional conduct as a doctor, then give us a call at S.J. Harris Law Office so we can help.


The S.J. Harris Law Office is proud to offer FREE 30-minute consultations to all medical professionals who need legal advice. Our consultations will remain private and will be protected by the attorney-client privilege. We understand that medical professionals who are facing allegations from a patient desire the proper discretion and confidentiality when seeking counsel. Our focus is on preserving three things: your license, your reputation, and your future. Call us at (310) 361-8585 or contact us online for a free consultation.

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This blog is meant to be informational. It is not meant to be all-encompassing legal advice. If you are facing a situation involving your professional license, seek counsel from a licensed attorney.