Closing a pediatric practice temporarily or permanently- is a major change in a pediatrician's professional life. All pediatricians should have a departure plan in place before they need it. This is especially true for solo practitioners, in case someone else must carry out that plan. Medicine is a complex professional and business endeavor and requires careful advance planning.
Practice close for a variety of reasons: the owner dies, has had a sudden change in health status, the practice has failed financially, the pediatrician has lost the authority to practice by order or agreement with the medical board, or the practice is sold to another entity.
When a pediatrician must close or leave his/her medical practice suddenly or without warning due to illness, injury, business failures, professional disputes, sale, or medical board discipline it is important to recognize that he or she still has important responsibilities to make reasonable provisions for an orderly transition or transfer of patient care.
The best approach is anticipatory. Pediatricians don't expect they will find themselves in a position to cease practice without warning, either temporarily or permanently. Developing written policies and procedures beforehand which address this issue will go a long way toward easing a very difficult transition. While this may be somewhat less of a problem for larger group practices or the employed pediatrician, and the unanticipated or precipitous practice closure burdens will fall most heavily on smaller or solo practitioners, all medical practices should anticipate that the unexpected may occur.
Practice or business managers should be provided authority to allow patients access to their medical records efficiently and facilitate transfer of copies of patient medical records to other health care providers promptly.
If possible, the pediatrician should do anything he or she can to facilitate continuity of care and allow for patient choice on where to receive further care.
Pediatricians using electronic health records (EHRs) should be familiar with the medical record retrieval and archiving policies for their particular EHR system. For instance, if medical records are cloud-based, the pediatrician should know what will happen to those medical records if the pediatrician suddenly stops paying her or his monthly network fees and maintenance.
Public notices to patients about the practice closure should provide full and forthright information about the expected duration of the practice closure and what patients can do to receive necessary or emergency interim medical care and/or transfer care to another health care provider. Accommodation should be made for aspects of patient care such as medication refills; lab, x-ray, and consultant follow-up; and completion of school/camp health and immunization forms.
If controlled substances are stored at the practice, the office staff should contact the DEA so that these drugs may be safely secured.