3 steps that make it less painful to terminate an employed physician 

Male doctor in white lab coat
Firing a physician isn't easy, but several steps could provide a framework to make the process a bit smoother. (Getty/Saklakova)

It's never easy for a physician practice or hospital to fire an employed physician, but several key steps can make the process a bit smoother, experts say.

While the individual circumstances leading to a physician's termination must come into play, having a framework in place can make the process less painful, wrote May Mon Post, of counsel at Fisher Phillips labor law firm in Philadelphia, and A. Kevin Troutman, partner at Fisher Phillips in Houston, in a column for Lexology. They suggest organizations take seven steps before letting the physician go. Here are three of them:

  1. Keep documentation of performance concerns that led to the termination. The unique role physicians play in the healthcare system can raise financial questions and issues related to insurance contracts, so clear documentation throughout the process is vital.
  2. Closely review the employment contract. Focus on termination rules, but don't ignore other provisions that could play a role, like the terms of agreement.
  3. Plan carefully for communication with various stakeholders. Inform staff, patients, payers and other stakeholders promptly, but provide only necessary information.

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The strategies that Post and Troutman offer could also translate into dismissing problematic patients, another tough "firing" for providers to navigate. 

Leaving staff unaware of hiring and firing decisions, particularly in the case of patients, can leave them vulnerable to potentially dangerous situations. Provide a script for dealing with individuals that have been fired, experts suggest. 

And don't get frustrated—a clear, direct conversation with the person being terminated can prevent problems later on.