Since the doctor practiced solo, there are no partners who will continue the practice. The estate can not operate the practice since it’s not accredited to practice medicine or dentistry.
Initial Actions. Before doing anything else, take these initial steps.
– Action # 1: Alert the CA Medical or Dental Board of the physician’s death.
– Action # 2: Inform the federal Drug Enforcement Administration of the medical professional’s death. When you alert the DEA, you must get guidelines on how to get rid of the remaining drugs and regulated substances.
– Action # 3: Talk with the workplace manager of the practice to determine the manager’s schedule to assist wind down the practice, and to develop a plan of action.
– Step # 4: Discover a service broker who specializes in the sale of medical or oral practices.
What to Do with the Practice During the Interim Phase.
During the interim duration while the estate is offering the practice or winding it down, you will need a medical professional to operate the practice.
– For dental experts, the law is clear. At the death of a dental practitioner, the administrator of the estate might employ certified dental experts and dental assistants and charge for their services for approximately 12 months after death. Preferably, the short-lived dental practitioner keeps the practice running so that you can offer it as a going concern within the 12 months.
– For physicians, the law is not so clear. By the letter of the law, the estate may not itself run, and might not hire a physician to operate the practice throughout the interim duration when the estate is attempting to offer the practice or wind it down. Remember that the estate is unlicensed. This suggests that, according to the law as composed, the estate needs to either offer or close down the practice right away upon the death of the physician. In the past, the CA Medical Board has allowed the estate to generate a doctor to cover the practice for the interim duration while the practice is being sold. The CA Medical Board did so on an informal basis, nevertheless, and I can’t tell you that it has a policy of offering this benefit. My advice is for the estate agent to call the CA Medical Board and explain the scenario, and want to receive informal consent to generate such a protection doctor on a short-lived basis. If granted permission to do so, the estate needs to move quickly in getting rid of the medical practice. I have seen estates that operated a practice up to one year after the physician’s death. This is definitely an abuse of the freedom given by the CA Medical Board, and likely constitutes the unlicensed practice of medicine by the estate, which is illegal.
If you offer the practice, the staff members hopefully can continue with the buying physician. If you can’t offer the practice, then consider having the workplace manager handle the unwinding of the practice, consisting of termination of work, payment of amounts owed at termination, COBRA notices, etc. The office manager can monitor most other actions required for the winding down as well, for example, the giving of patient notices, payment of practice obligations, and the collection of receivables. You might have to pay the workplace supervisor a little additional to remain around for this work.
Patient records resemble nuclear waste: nobody wants them and no one knows the length of time to keep them. Your best alternative is to discover a physician to take the patients and the client records. If a patient demands his or her client records, thank the patient, and deliver the records to the client right away.
If you can’t discover a medical professional to take the patient records, then for how long should the estate shop the records? I have no easy response. There is no general law requiring a doctor to maintain medical records for a particular amount of time. Different laws have different requirements, for instance, 3 or 5 or 7 years. A lot of litigators advise that you hold patient records for ten years, on the theory that many claims have disappeared after ten years.
If nothing else, the estate needs to get in touch with the doctor’s insurance coverage carrier to determine its requirements for record retention. You do not wish to break the agreement for malpractice insurance. Lots of carriers offer a lower period for maintaining records after a medical professional’s death. The estate ought to hold the records for at least the duration of time required by the insurer.
Keep the physician’s malpractice policy in place up until it ends. For high-risk practices, consider buying a tail policy. Also, keep copies of the physician’s prior policies until you feel safe from malpractice claims against the departed medical professional.
One Year Statute of Limitations.
Lastly, talk with the estate’s lawyer about the statute of limitations for estate and probate matters. There is an one-year statute of restrictions for bringing a claim versus an estate which starts to range from the date of the death of the medical professional, no matter whether the claimant knows about it. The one-year statute of restrictions may cut off a great deal of possible claims versus the estate.
Depending on the nature of the doctor’s practice, you might feel comfy depending on this short 1 year duration for protection from client, financial institution and other third-party claims versus the departed physician. This is a hard choice, but it’s an important choice, so make certain to discuss it with your lawyer.