Practice Management

Leaving a Group Practice

The following steps will prepare you to notify the group and your patients of your decision and help you minimize your medical professional risk.

Before retiring from a group practice or leaving to join or open another practice, give your patients a reasonable amount of time to decide whether they will stay with the group practice, follow you, or find a new practice. The following steps will prepare you to notify the group and your patients of your decision and help you minimize your medical professional liability risk.

  1. Meet with your attorney and review your employment contract. The contract may address whether the practice will notify your patients or if you are permitted to notify them. Other important contract provisions include non-competition clauses, especially within a geographic radius; patient non-solicitation clauses; and ownership and/or custodianship of medical records.

  2. Contact your broker or MICA customer service representative about career and practice location changes, whether you may continue or change your current MICA medical professional liability policy. The broker or customer service representative may explain terminating the policy and purchasing tail coverage.

  3. Talk to your patients about planned but not yet scheduled surgeries or procedures. These patients may choose to follow you to your new practice, select a new surgeon or proceduralist, or schedule the surgery or procedure before your departure but see another surgeon or proceduralist in the group for post-surgical care.

  4. Prepare to answer patient’s questions about referring them to another physician or advanced health care practitioner in the group.

5. Reasonable and timely notification to patients depends on the availability of other physicians or clinicians in the group, city, county, or region. Notification should occur at least 90 days before the effective date. The group practice may agree to a joint letter from you and the practice, or, if allowed by any contracts in place, you may send a letter informing patients of your departure, the patient’s choices for care, your new location, and the process for requesting copies of medical records. The group practice may also agree to provide your new contact information to patients calling to schedule an appointment with you after your departure. Notice may also be posted in waiting rooms, exam rooms, restrooms, the group practice website, and/or the group practice voice message system and “on hold” recording. You should ask the group practice to include notice with bills or statements of services.

6. Ask the practice to include any notification letter in the patients’ medical records.

7. Discuss how the practice will manage mail and e-mail sent to you at the practice after your departure.

8. Notify the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, other third-party payors, state licensing boards, specialty boards and organizations, the Drug Enforcement Administration (if you prescribe controlled substances), and medical facilities that have granted you treatment privileges of your career and/or location change. Third-party payors may want new participating physician or clinician agreements.

The content of this publication or presentation is intended for educational purposes only; is not an official position statement of Mutual Insurance Company of Arizona (MICA); and should not be considered or relied upon as professional, medical, or legal advice or as a substitute for your professional judgment. Consult your attorney about your individual situation and the applicable laws. The authors, presenters, and editors made a reasonable effort to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of publication or presentation but do not warrant or guarantee accuracy, completeness, or currency of such information. As medical and legal information is constantly changing and evolving, check for updated information and consult your attorney before making decisions.

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