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Q & A: Patient Notification When Closing a Practice

The "what if's" and the "what should I do with" questions regarding closing a practice can make your head spin. Following are some recent questions posed to our risk management team about patient notifications when closing a practice.

Question:  If a practice has a Facebook page how long should they keep it up after they close? 

Recommendation:  The Facebook page, and any website, should be used as a vehicle to provide notice of the closure of the practice. It should stay up for 60-90-days after closure if the practice is dissolved.  Keep in mind that there may be state-specific requirements for notice issues.

Question: How long should an office keep a landline number after closing? 

Recommendation:  Again 60-90 days after closure if the practice is dissolved.  Keep in mind that there may be state-specific requirements for notice issues.

Question: I have to notify all active patients about the closure. What is the considered cut-off of an active patient?

Recommendation:  Active patients are considered, patients that have been seen within the last 2 years.  When notifying all active patients of your closure you should choose 2 years from the date in which the letter announcing the closure was sent. The goal is to avoid patient abandonment and any claims that could be made whether in a civil action or with a licensing board.

Question:  Is using email to communicate the closure of your practice sufficient?

Recommendation:  Yes, however, if an email bounces back, you should send a letter.

Question:  If patients receive a closing letter at their next visit do you still need to mail them another copy?  

Recommendation:  No, as long as a copy of the letter is in the chart and there is a note in the chart that indicates the letter was provided to the patient.               

Question:  If you use the patient portal, send emails, give out letters after a visit and/or send letters is it still recommended you place an ad in the local paper? 

Recommendation:  Yes.  Again, the objective is to capture the most patients possible.  The cost of an ad offsets a potential abandonment claim.

For more information on this topic or other risk management issues, visit our Risk Management Resource Center or email us with questions.

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