Closing or Selling a Practice

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Steps to Take When Closing or Selling Your Practice

Retiring, selling, or closing your practice can be an exciting but complicated time in a physician's life. You may feel consumed by details and deadlines involved with the closing process and may be wondering where to begin. Consider using the AAFP’s Closing Your Practice Checklist(1 page PDF) to guide you through the closing process and ease your transition into this new stage in your life.

As with any transition of this magnitude, it is important to contact an accountant and an attorney for specific business and legal advice to close your practice. This will assure that you are you are making the best business decisions and complying with legal issues relating to your profession.

Medical Records

Keep the following in mind when closing or selling a practice:

  • Medical records cannot be transferred to another physician without the patients’ consent.
  • Patients must be given the option to choose another doctor and have a copy of their records sent to the physician of their choice.
  • The medical records cannot not be part of the sale of the practice. If you are selling your practice to another physician, that physician can only become the custodian of the medical records and respond to record requests from patients, health facilities, or legal entities.
  • The length of time required to keep a patient's medical record varies according to state law. Your state medical board can help you determine the rules for your area.

Notifying Patients of Practice Closure

When closing a practice, you should send a notification letter to the patients you have seen in your practice within the last three years. An example follows:

Dear (Insert Patient Name):

I am writing this letter to inform you that I will no longer be able to serve as your personal physician at (insert practice name). After ___ years, I have decided to retire and close my practice. (If you are closing your practice for any other reason, this can be stated here.)

The last day that I will see patients will be (insert date). I will continue to provide medical care for you prior to this closing date. I have enclosed an authorization form for you to complete and return to our office to have your medical record forwarded to the new health care provider of choice.

Once the office is closed, your medical records will be stored at (let patient know where they will be stored). Future medical record requests can be sent to (insert address).

Thank you for trusting me with your health care needs throughout my time at (name of practice). It has been a pleasure caring for you. I wish you continued health and happiness in the future.

Sincerely,

(Insert Physician Name), MD/DO