Problem Patients #2

Chronic or "doctor-shopping" patient may be more likely to file a lawsuit or board allegation against a D.C.

Risk Management

The Doctor-Shopping Patient

Attorney Carol Romano has found that the chronic or "doctor-shopping" patient may be more likely to file a lawsuit or board allegation.


Carol notes that these doctor-shopping patients may present with a chronic course of multiple vague or exaggerated symptoms and often suffer from anxiety, depression and personality disorders. They likely have a history of multiple diagnostic tests with no definitive results.

If you have already accepted the patient into your practice and you believe chiropractic care can help, Carol advises you to be compassionate and understand these patients may simply be feeling frustrated that no one has been able to uncover the cause of their health problems.

She says to address the issue directly and early in the treatment process to establish expectations. For example, “I noticed you have seen several doctors and have had extensive tests to try to uncover the root of your problems. I recognize the symptoms are a real difficulty for you, but I believe any serious health problems have been ruled out. I would like to try a course of conservative chiropractic care that has worked well for patients of mine with similar symptoms. If after two weeks, you haven’t improved, we’ll try another approach.”

Carol advises that you get information about the patient’s health history (with the patient’s permission) from previously treating doctors. If other doctors are still in the picture, make sure to coordinate the patient’s care and treatment with them.

A caveat: if the patient tells you about the “terrible doctors” he’s seen, Carol says this is a major red flag. If you haven’t begun treatment already, it may be best to tell the patient to find another doctor.

For more information on potentially problem patients, see "The New Patient," "The Questioning Patient" and "The Angry Patient."


The information in the NCMIC Learning Center is offered solely for general information and educational purposes. It is not offered as, nor does it represent, legal or professional advice. Neither does this information constitute a guideline, practice parameter or standard of care. You should not act or rely upon this information without seeking the advice of an attorney familiar with the specific legal requirements of the state(s) in which you practice. If there is a discrepancy between the site and an insurance policy you have with NCMIC, the policy will prevail.