Legal Question in Credit and Debt Law in Massachusetts

Charging for missed appointment

Can a doctor charge for a full visit to a patient if they have missed a scheduled appointment? Is it legal if you have never signed a contract?

Asked on 7/02/07, 9:50 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

JOHN TATOIAN LAW OFFICE OF JOHN A. TATOIAN ESQ.*Licensed Only in Massachusetts
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Re: Charging for missed appointment

Your questions turns on the issue of whether or not there is a valid contract between the doctor's office and you ( the patient), whereby you are obligated to pay the doctor $X amount for a missed appointment. The answer is fact specific and essentially depends upon whether there was "mutual assent" between you and the doctor. As a practical matter, usually the patient is notified of a charge for a missed appointment by some type of conspicuous posting in the doctor's office, usually by the receptionist's window.Whether this constitutes "mutual assent" is a question of fact. In answer to your specific question, under Massachusetts law, contracts do not have to be in writing to have a legally binding effect. The caveat to that is found under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 259, Section 1, which states that certain contracts must be in writing ( eg; to charge an executor upon a promise, to charge a person to answer for the debt of another, promises in consideration of marriage, to convey an interest in land, promises which cannot be performed within one year from the making. I would try to negotiate with the doctor, and, if he is unreasonable, find another doctor, unless you can't replace he/she.

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7/02/07, 10:18 pm

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