Starting a Medical Practice
Whether starting a solo practice or joining a group of physicians, the AMA’s Starting, Owning, and Buying a Medical Practice has new and updated information that physicians need to begin the process and get the practice running smoothly right from the start. For more information or to order the book, click here.
Closing a Medical Practice
OMA believes that due care should be exercised when closing or departing from a medical practice. Not only does this ensure a smooth transition from the current physician to the new treating physician, but it also reduces the liability of “patient abandonment.” Therefore, to ensure this occurs with a minimum of disruption in continuity of care, the physician terminating the physician-patient relationship should notify patients sufficiently in advance. If the practice focuses on management of essentially healthy patients, that notice could be as short as thirty days. Where complex conditions and sick patients are involved, two factors affect the length of notice: how sick is the patient? And how available is other care in the community?
It is the patient’s decision from whom to receive medical care. Therefore, it is the responsibility of all physicians and other parties who may be involved to ensure that:
- Patients are notified of changes in the medical practice. This is best done by letter to patients by the physician explaining the change, including the final date of practice. OMA recommends, if possible, that letters be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, and that a copy of the letter with the return receipt be kept. To inform inactive patients or those who have moved away, the OMA also recommends placing an advertisement in a local newspaper.
- Patients are advised as to where their medical records will be stored including how they may access them. To facilitate the transfer of medical records to the new treating physician, an authorization form should be included in the letter.
- Patients secure another healthcare provider. If the practice is being taken over by another physician or another can be recommended, the patients can be referred to that physician.
Below are some resources to help you ensure a smooth transition:
- Closing Your Practice Checklist
- Closing Your Practice - OMA Medical-Legal Information
- Closing Your Practice - AMA Resources
- Moving to the Next Chapter Presentation
- Sample Letter to Patients