Closing your practice: What to do and when to do it

Practice Pointers. By Karen S. Schechter, AMNews contributor.

Question: I have been in solo practice for 40 years and am now thinking about retiring at the end of the year. What steps do I need to take, and when should I begin the process?

Answer: Closing the doors of a long-standing private medical practice should be handled with as much care and attention to details as the opening of a new practice.

To start the closing process, the physician should first notify staff. When doing so, it is appropriate to present a timeline, along with a plan as to how you will staff the office during and immediately after the closing, and what support you will provide to the staff with respect to finding new positions.

It is appropriate to give your employees at least 90 days notice. The next group to notify is patients and their legal representatives. This must be done in writing. It is recommended that registered mail with return receipt requested be used in the case of high-risk patients, those undergoing aggressive treatment or those on your follow-up schedule.

The letter should clearly state that the practice is closing and that the patient will have to seek medical care from a different physician. The letter should also include a medical record release authorization form that indicates the number of years the records will be retained, and a permanent mailing address or post office box number for future record requests. Offer patients the opportunity to contact the office for possible referrals.
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