Articles and Case Studies

Winding up your medical practice

26 Nov 2021

Karen Stephens

by Karen Stephens

Winding up your medical practice

The Medical Board’s code of conduct includes certain expectations when closing or relocating your medical practice.

Advance notice

You can notify patients during consultations, through practice and website signage, by post or email. In the ACT,1 public advertisement and informing ACT Health are required. A local newspaper notice is needed in Victoria.2 Communicate the date you will cease practice; whether you will sell or close the practice; options for ongoing care; and how to arrange transfer of records.

 

Continuing medical care

This depends on what will happen with the records, but a formal handover to another doctor may be needed for complex patients. Ideally, it’s best to stop seeing patients or ordering investigations well before finishing up, or be available to review incoming results for a short time afterwards. You might copy in a colleague when ordering a test, and let patients know who will follow up on results.

 

Medical records

If leaving a group practice where your patients will see other doctors within the practice, no specific arrangements are necessary. If selling your practice, the contract of sale can include that the medical records will be owned by the purchaser, and you can inform patients of this in your advance notice. It’s wise to include a clause in the sale contract allowing you access to the records, in case of a later claim or investigation.

If the above does not apply, give patients the option of providing a copy of their records to a doctor of their choice or to themselves.

Records remaining in your possession should be stored securely for seven years from the date of last entry or, for a child, until the patient turns 25. You must delete or destroy records securely. In the ACT, NSW and Victoria, a register of this must be kept.

 

Informing others

As appropriate, notify:

  • your employer (according to contractual terms)
  • colleagues, hospitals, pathology and radiology services
  • Medicare (cancel your provider number) and the drugs and poisons regulator
  • Ahpra (maintaining Ahpra registration carries obligations such as CPD and mandatory reporting. Non-practising registration allows use of the title ‘medical practitioner’, but you must not provide medical treatment or opinion to an individual including yourself, prescribe medication or issue referrals).

 

Other

  • Financial and tax advice.
  • Leases, equipment, insurance policies, utilities and mail
  • Disposal of medications, script pads, websites, domain names, and other IT systems
  • Employers’ obligations – see the Fair Work Commission guidelines.3

 

References:

1. ACT Health – Health practice closure, merger or relocation: health.act.gov.au/health-professionals/medical-professionals/health-practice-closure-merger-or-relocation
2. ABLIS – Statutory guidelines on transfer or closure of the practice or business of a health service provider – Victoria: ablis.business.gov.au/service/vic/statutory-guidelines-on-transfer-or-closure-of-the-practice-or-business-of-a-health-service-provider/34231
3. Fair Work Commission. Business transfers, shutdowns & closures: fwc.gov.au/disputes-at-work/fairness-in-the-workplace/business-transfers-shutdowns-closures

 

More Resources

More Information

Medical Board code of conduct – section 4.16
cec.health.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/618387/teach-back.pdf

MDA National medico-legal booklet
cec.health.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/618387/teach-back.pdf

RACGP: Closing a medical practice – Module 13
https://www.racgp.org.au/FSDEDEV/media/documents/Running a practice/Practice resources/Management toolkit/Closing-a-medical-practice.pdf

 


Communication with Patients, Confidentiality and Privacy, Employment Essentials, Medical Records and Reports, Practice Management, Regulation and Legislation, Anaesthesia, Dermatology, Emergency Medicine, General Practice, Intensive Care Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Ophthalmology, Pathology, Practice Manager Or Owner, Psychiatry, Radiology, Sports Medicine, Surgery, Physician, Geriatric Medicine, Cardiology, Plastic And Reconstructive Surgery, Radiation Oncology, Paediatrics, Independent Medical Assessor - IME, Gastroenterology
 

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