As a medical professional, retiring is not as simple as riding off into the sunset. You may well get to that sunset ride, but to make sure it’s undisturbed by any loose ends –particularly any that could lead to allegations of abandonment and gaps in medical care –make sure you do the following:
1. Notify your staff first. The practice closure will directly affect them, so they need at least two to three months’ advance notice to arrange alternate employment. Ask for some to stay until the end to help you in your final appointments.
2. Notify your patients. Make sure you let your active patients know about the closure in advance, as well, about three months ahead of time. Consult how your county legally defines active patients to be sure you have your bases covered. In writing, let your patients know that you are retiring and closing the practice, when it will close and how they can access their medical records (see step 4). You may need to refer patients to others physicians to avoid a gap in their care and any allegations of abandonment. Mail your patients this information in a letter. Post notice of the closure on your practice’s website as well as any of your practice’s social media outlets. After the closure, you can shut down those social media accounts.
3. Notify referring physicians. Eliminate confusion by making sure that those who refer their patients to you are aware of your retirement/practice closure.
4. Find a custodian to keep your records. Medical records are sensitive material, and you need to carefully consider what you will do with them. You can pay for storage yourself or entrust the records to an eligible third party, or custodian, such as a hospital or another physician. Make sure you have a binding written agreement with the custodian that they will maintain the records for the specified amount of time (often state laws dictate how long), that the custodian will send records to patients who request it and that you can access the records at any time (in case of a malpractice suit). Make sure you let your patients know how they can access their records. Be sure to carefully consult state law. Consider consulting a lawyer, as well, to make sure you’re aware of all requirements.
Closing your practice is a complex process. Need help announcing your retirement and practice’s closure in a thoughtful and effective way, one that does not make your patients feel abandoned? Contact Practice Builders at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free healthcare marketing consultation.