Medical Practice Closure Considerations

We receive questions concerning the steps that are required or necessary in connection with the closure of a medical practice.  Typically, a physician who has devoted their entire life to the day-to-day practice of medicine is faced with numerous legal, accounting, and administrative tasks, some of which extend beyond the actual shut-down of the practice.  Planning, organization, communication, and administration are key elements to avoid issues after the closure.

Practice closure matters include but are not limited to:

Staff Notification: Staff of the practice should be notified of the closure.  A physician may have to prepare to hire temporary staff if employees leave prior to closing date.

Patient Notification: The State Medical Board of Ohio (“Ohio Medical Board”) has laws and rules pertaining to the notice that a physician is required to give patients.  These laws and rules include, but are not limited to, when notice must be given, the information that is required to be included in the notice, and how notice must be given.

Government/Payor/Agency Notifications: Notice concerning the closure of the practice must be coordinated and given to entities including, but not limited to, the DEA, Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance payors, hospitals, professional associations, and the Ohio Medical Board.  Each entity may have different requirements.

Professional Liability Insurance: If necessary, extended reporting professional liability insurance (so called, “tail coverage”) should be obtained, which provides coverage against claims reported after the liability policy expires.

Medical Records: The storage or transfer of paper and electronic medical records in compliance with Federal and State law including, but not limited to, HIPAA must be completed.  An address or PO Box to receive, and procedure to respond to, medical records requests after the closure of the medical practice must be established and followed.

Service and Supply Providers: Notice concerning the closure of the practice to providers including, but not limited to, providers of ancillary services, medical supplies, and other services and supplies should be coordinated and given.  Accounts with such providers should be closed.

Business Entity Issues: Termination of any Lease Agreement(s), termination of utilities services, collection of accounts receivables, sale of medical and office equipment, dissolving the medical practice legal entity with the Ohio Secretary of State, and filing of final Federal, State, and local tax returns must be coordinated and completed.

If you have any questions about this blog or the State Medical Board of Ohio, please feel free to contact one of the attorneys at Collis Law Group LLC at (614) 486-3909 or email me at Todd@collislaw.com.

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Ohio Physicians considering retirement should make the decision voluntarily and prior to being compelled to retire by the State Medical Board of Ohio

Questions often arise as to when it is appropriate to retire from the practice of medicine.  In many instances, physicians who are happy and healthy do not want to consider retirement.  Many physicians have told me that they have devoted their entire life to their medical practice and that, because they do not have any other hobbies, skills, or interests, they desire to continue to practice medicine. Additionally, physicians have told me that they are concerned that they may not have the financial means to stop working. Finally, many physicians are concerned that they will miss the daily interaction with their staff and their patients.

The State Medical Board of Ohio (“Medical Board”) does not have a specific retirement age.  A Physician with a valid license to practice medicine in Ohio may continue to do so for so as long as they are mentally and physically fit to practice and comply with Medical Board laws and rules.  However, if the Medical Board has reason to believe that a physician is unfit to practice medicine, the Medical Board has the legal authority to order a physician to a medical or mental health evaluation.

Ohio Revised Code Section 4731.22(B)(19) provides:

“(B) The board, by an affirmative vote of not fewer than six members, shall, to the extent permitted by law, limit, revoke, or suspend an individual’s certificate to practice or certificate to recommend, refuse to issue a certificate to an individual, refuse to renew a certificate, refuse to reinstate a certificate, or reprimand or place on probation the holder of a certificate for one or more of the following reasons:

(19) Inability to practice according to acceptable and prevailing standards of care by reason of mental illness or physical illness, including, but not limited to, physical deterioration that adversely affects cognitive, motor, or perceptive skills.

In enforcing this division, the board, upon a showing of a possible violation, may compel any individual authorized to practice by this chapter or who has submitted an application pursuant to this chapter to submit to a mental examination, physical examination, including an HIV test, or both a mental and a physical examination. The expense of the examination is the responsibility of the individual compelled to be examined. Failure to submit to a mental or physical examination or consent to an HIV test ordered by the board constitutes an admission of the allegations against the individual unless the failure is due to circumstances beyond the individual’s control, and a default and final order may be entered without the taking of testimony or presentation of evidence.

For the purpose of this division, any individual who applies for or receives a certificate to practice under this chapter accepts the privilege of practicing in this state and, by so doing, shall be deemed to have given consent to submit to a mental or physical examination when directed to do so in writing by the board, and to have waived all objections to the admissibility of testimony or examination reports that constitute a privileged communication. (emphasis added)

If the Medical Board has reason to believe that a physician is unable to practice according to acceptable and prevailing standards of care by reason of mental illness or physical illness, a formal disciplinary action may be commenced.  This action may include (but is not limited to) ordering the physician to undergo a mental and/or physical examination.  Failure to submit to a mental and/or physical examination as ordered by the board constitutes an admission of the allegations against the physician, unless the failure is due to circumstances beyond the physician’s control.

On the basis of the mental and/or physical examination, the Medical Board can require the physician to submit to care, counseling, or treatment by physicians approved or designated by the Medical Board as a condition for reinstatement to practice.  The physician will receive an opportunity to demonstrate to the Medical Board their ability to resume practice in compliance with acceptable and prevailing standards under the provisions of the individual’s certificate.

In order to suspend a physician’s medical license, or to recommend retirement, the Medical Board must find that the physician’s continued practice, “presents a danger of immediate and serious harm to the public.”

In the past few years, we have seen the Medical Board order certain physicians to submit to a mental and/or physical examination. Based on the result of those examinations, the Medical Board has either suspended the physician’s license or requested that they enter into a “voluntary” permanent retirement of their medical license.

As always, if you have questions about this post or the State Medical Board of Ohio in general, please feel free to contact one of the attorneys at the Collis Law Group LLC at 614-486-3909 or email me at beth@collislaw.com.