Closing Your Medical Practice
The following provides guidance to physicians regarding the closure of or departure
from a medical practice office.
It is the Board's position that due care should be exercised when closing or departing
from a medical practice. Not only does this ensure a smooth transition from the
current physician to the new treating physician, but it also reduces the liability
of "patient abandonment." Therefore, to ensure this occurs with a minimum of disruption
in continuity of care, the physician terminating the physician-patient relationship
should notify patients sufficiently in advance.
It is the patient's decision from whom to receive medical care. Therefore, it is
the responsibility of all physicians and other parties who may be involved to ensure
- Patients are notified of changes in the medical practice. This is best done by letter
to patients by the physician explaining the change, including the final date of
practice. (The California Medical Association (CMA) recommends, if possible, that
letters be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, and that a copy of
the letter with the return receipt be kept. To inform inactive patients or those
who have moved away, the CMA also recommends placing an advertisement in a local
- Patients be advised as to where their medical records will be stored including how
they may access them. To facilitate the transfer of medical records to the new treating
physician, an authorization form should be included in the letter.
- Patients secure another health care provider. If the practice is being taken over
by another physician or another can be recommended, the patients can be referred
to that physician.
For additional information on retirement, the CMA offers a publication that addresses
physician retirement issues. For ordering information, please visit the CMA website