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What to do when a Provider leaves your Practice

When a dentist leaves a practice, it not only affects the practice itself, but it also has an effect on the patients. In such situations, dental practices come into the dual role of guarding protected healthcare information and facilitating the continuity of care.

Dentists change jobs more frequently today than they have in the past. This is especially true as healthcare groups merge or become acquired, and as younger practitioners enter the field with different values and views on work-life balance.

When a dentist leaves a practice, it not only affects the practice itself, but it also has an effect on the patients. In such situations, dental practices come into the dual role of guarding patient’s protected healthcare information and facilitating the continuity of care. What is a practice to do?

It is important for practices like yours to recognize that patients could be attached to their provider and may feel disheartened by their leaving. Additionally, patients may dislike having to establish a new provider relationship.

It is your job to make the transition process as positive as possible for patients should a dentist leave. This is especially important if you want to maintain these patients in your practice.

In order to best address patient concerns and create a smooth transition process, consider the following administrative and clinical steps should a dentist leave your practice:

  • Consult with your practice’s healthcare attorney and state dental board as to requirements or suggestions of which you should be aware before action is taken. Additionally, you should:
    • Review contractual issues
    • Agree on how questions from patients and staff regarding the departure will be answered in a positive manner
    • Notify appropriate third parties such as hospitals, third party payers, etc.
  • If possible, patients should be alerted in a timely manner as to:
    • The date the provider will be leaving the practice
    • If it is available, contact information of where the provider will be practicing in the future
    • Contact information for other providers in the group who may assume care
    • Directions on how to obtain medical records – remember these records cannot be released without the patient’s authorization
      • Note: According to the American Medical Association, it is the provider’s responsibility to inform patients of their departure. The list of patients’ and any necessary information cannot be withheld.

This is not an all-encompassing list, but it will get you started on managing the transition to a positive outcome for all involved. 

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