Addressing Parent Accountability With Pediatric Patients

Risk Tip

August 16, 2021

Reading time: 4 minutes

Managing nonadherent and difficult patients is not uncommon in various types of healthcare settings. In practices that treat pediatric patients, healthcare providers may encounter issues with parents (or guardians) rather than with the patients themselves. Many pediatric providers can give examples of parents who (a) won’t authorize testing or treatment for their children, (b) fail to follow through with agreed- upon treatment plans, or (c) simply “fade away” before treatment can be initiated or completed. 

Other difficult situations include parents who expect special treatment — accommodations for uncooperative children, preferential appointment scheduling, and extended payment schedules are a few examples. In their desire to appease these parents, healthcare providers may inadvertently inconvenience their staff members as well as their other patients. 

The ability to differentiate between providing good customer service and conducting good business practice is vital in the healthcare setting. Ideally, both should reflect the needs of all patients, staff accountabilities, and the standard of care. If not, accommodations that aren’t compatible with the practice’s mission and policies may result in unintended negative results for providers, staff, and patients. 

Healthcare providers and staff members can implement various strategies to create more positive outcomes when dealing with nonadherent or difficult behavior from parents. 

A Note About Child Abuse/Neglect 

Parental nonadherence to pediatric patients’ healthcare also might raise questions about suspected child abuse or neglect. Healthcare providers who treat pediatric patients play a vital role in identifying and reporting suspected abuse and neglect and preventing tragedies. 

Healthcare practices should develop an abuse/neglect policy and educate providers and staff members about their reporting obligations under federal and state laws. The practice should consider posting this policy or including it in the welcome brochure so that parents are aware of these regulations. In some instances, providers might need to work with members of other healthcare professions to determine whether a child’s condition warrants a report of suspected abuse or neglect. 


Additional Risk content


In the past two decades, social media has become ubiquitous in the United States and abroad. The widespread proliferation of…


Risk Checklist Documentation Essentials Documentation serves many purposes, from patient care record keeping, to communications, to coding and billing, and…


Risk Checklist Due Diligence of Business Associates In the current complex healthcare environment, it is increasingly common for healthcare organizations…

This document should not be construed as medical or legal advice and should not be construed as rules or establishing a standard of care. Because the facts applicable to your situation may vary, or the laws applicable in your jurisdiction may differ, please contact your attorney or other professional advisors if you have any questions related to your legal or medical obligations or rights, state or federal laws, contract interpretation, or other legal questions.

MedPro Group is the marketing name used to refer to the insurance operations of The Medical Protective Company, Princeton Insurance Company, PLICO, Inc. and MedPro RRG Risk Retention Group. All insurance products are underwritten and administered by these and other Berkshire Hathaway affiliates, including National Fire & Marine Insurance Company. Product availability is based upon business and/or regulatory approval and/or may differ among companies.

© 2023 MedPro Group Inc. All rights reserved.