Dialogue Volume 15, Issue 3 2019 | Page 36

POLICY MATTERS Closing A Medical Practice Updated expectations approved by Council patients. The policy updates expectations that had been articu- lated in the Practice Management Considerations for Physicians who Cease to Practice, Take an Extended Leave of Absence or Close a Practice Due to Relocating. The Closing a Medical Practice policy updates expec- tations around patient notification, and physicians’ obli- gations in facilitating continuity of care. It also provides guidance reflective of the different circumstances leading to a closure, whether it is an unexpected closure because of death or sudden illness, suspension or revocation or a planned closure as a result of retirement or relocation. Notably, the policy states that physicians must pro- vide 90 days notice to patients who are being actively managed prior to a planned closure of the practice – an expectation shared by other Canadian medical regulatory authorities. However, this timeline is flexible if there is a physician taking over the practice. The contents of this notice and acceptable methods of communication are also set out in the policy. The policy also requires physicians’ efforts to rea- sonably assist patients in arranging care from another health-care provider. What is reasonable depends upon the reason for the practice closure, patient needs, and the health-care providers and/or health-system resources available in the community. The policy applies to all physicians who are closing a 36 DIALOGUE ISSUE 3, 2019 medical practice, including those who work in group practices or institutional settings, regardless of practice area or speciality. Here are some additional things to know about the policy:  the event of an unplanned closure, ensure ahead of In time that you have a designate in place to facilitate compliance with the policy. (Please see article about succession planning on facing page). Ensure that appropriate follow-up occurs for tests or- dered by you, where the test results are pending. Notify patients whose care you have actively managed of a practice closure, and if you intend to transfer cus- tody of the medical record, you must notify all patients. The policy has various notification requirements. Notify patients directly, either in writing (i.e., letter-mail or secure email), by telephone, or in person at a scheduled appointment Notification must also be provided to employers, hos- pitals or other facilities where you hold privileges, em- ployers, and to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. The CPSO must be notified within 30 days of a practice relocation. An advice document has also been developed to pro- vide further assistance. MD T he College has approved a policy that describes what steps a physician should take when closing his or her practice in order to minimize the impact on the practice’s