Thursday Troubleshooter: Was it legal for dentist to take ‘his’ patient list when he left practice?

Date: January 31, 2019
Mr. Bogart was featured in an article by Team Troubleshooter, a weekly column on Dentistry iQ presenting questions and/or issues from people who work in dental practices seeking expert opinion and guidance.

QUESTION: An associate dentist decided to leave the practice he had been with for five years. There was no signed contract in place, so he was free to practice wherever he chose. Prior to leaving, he took pictures of patient’s names, addresses, and phone numbers whom he had treated during the five years. From those pictures he compiled a list of all the patients he thought were “his.” After he left, the owner-dentist sold the practice to another doctor who took over immediately. The former associate dentist opened a new practice with another dentist in a 50/50 partnership. His new partner had been practicing solo in his own office, so upon joining, this former associate needed to purchase 50% of his new partner’s solo practice. The former associate then presented what he called his “former patient list.” He wanted to receive compensation per patient whenever one of these patients visited the practice. I don’t think this seems right, at least from an ethical view. Is it right from a legal view? Can someone collect money on what is essentially a stolen patient list?

Read answer from Phil Bogart here