Relocating, selling or retiring is never an easy decision for a physician. On top of patients’ anxiety about their doctor leaving, there are also legal hoops you will be required to jump through. It’s important to know what is expected of you as you relocate, sell or retire from a practice. The last thing any doctor on his or her way out would want is a letter from the Florida Department of Health (DOH) informing him or her that when the practice closed he or she failed to follow the proper procedures under Florida law. Even in retirement, the Florida DOH can fine a physician or health care provider. And believe me that does happen.
This blog is intended to help any physician or health care provider relocating, retiring or terminating a practice. It will explain the necessary steps that need to be taken under Rule 64B8-10.002, Florida Administrative Code.
Notifying Patients of Relocation or Termination of a Practice.
When a licensed physician terminates practice or relocates and is no longer available to patients, patients should be notified of such termination, sale or relocation. The physician is required to publically announce the event by publishing an announcement once during each week for four consecutive weeks in the newspaper of the greatest general circulation in each county in which the physician practices. So for example, if you live in the Orlando, Florida, area, you would want to publish the notice in the Orlando Sentinel. The newspaper notification must announce the date of termination, sale or relocation and an address where patients can obtain a copy of their medical records.
A copy of the notice must be mailed to the Florida Board of Medicine within a month of the date of relocation or termination of the medical practice. It would be in your best interest to obtain and keep a copy of your notice from the newspaper, just in case the board audits you or someone files a complaint.
Signs at the Office are Optional.
The physician may, but is not required to, place a sign at a location in the office to notify patients by letter of the termination, sale or relocation of the practice. The sign or notice will advise patients of their opportunity to transfer or receive their records. Again, this is optional.
Keeping Medical Records.
Under Section 458.331(1)(m), Florida Statutes, a physician must keep adequate written medical records for a period of five years from the last patient contact, so medical record storage options, which must properly conform with state and federal privacy regulations, will have to be considered. Alternatively, the sale of a practice necessitates an execution of the proper medical record transfer agreement as part of the transaction.
Also keep in mind, a physician planning to close, sell or relocate a medical practice must consider how to effectively notify employees about termination and must properly maintain employee records and other medical billing records after the practice has closed its doors.
Notifying All Appropriate Groups.
On top of informing the Florida Board of Medicine, physicians may also be required to notify other licensing authorities. This may include the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Florida DOH, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), and other local business licensing authorities.
These rules can be confusing and complex. To ensure you have completely complied with Florida law, consult with a health law attorney experienced in these matters.
Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Business Transactions and Contracts.
At the Health Law Firm we provide legal services for all health care providers and professionals. This includes physicians, nurses, dentists, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, Durable Medical Equipment suppliers, medical students and interns, hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, pain management clinics, nursing homes, and any other health care provider. We represent facilities, individuals, groups and institutions in contracts, sales, mergers and acquisitions.
The services we provide include reviewing and negotiating contracts, business transactions, professional license defense, representation in investigations, credential defense, representation in peer review and clinical privileges hearings, Medicare and Medicaid audits, commercial litigation, and administrative hearings.
To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
Have you gone through the process of selling, relocating or retiring? How did you comply with all the rules? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.
Rule 64B8-10.002, F.A.C., Medical Records of Physicians Relocating or Terminating Practice; Retention, Disposition, Time Limitations.
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
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