The Biggest Mistakes Health Care Providers Make When Retiring, Closing or Relocating a Medical Practice

Friday, June 8, 2018
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Health care professionals retire, sell or move their practices or they quit their jobs for more lucrative opportunities. In doing so, it is common to focus on the new position or the next step that seems more exciting or satisfying. However, it is a mistake to neglect the details of closing or relocating the existing practice or exiting the old position. Many health care professionals make serious mistakes that can affect them for years to come.

Don’t Forget About the Patients.

Once a physician or health care provider has established a relationship, the physician must not abandon the patient. The relationship that exists between a physician or health care provider and patient continues until it is terminated with the consent of both parties. The sudden and premature termination of medical treatment is often the subject of a legal cause of action known as abandonment.  Abandonment is defined as the unilateral termination of a physician-patient or health professional-patient relationship by the health care provider without proper notice to the patient when there is still the necessity of continuing medical attention.  Click here to read one of my prior blogs on patient abandonment.

Violating Restrictive Covenants.

Noncompetition agreements are restrictive covenants that require employees not to work for an employer's competitors after resigning or being terminated. This type of agreement is often set for a specific term, typically six months to two years and often applies within a certain geographic area.  However, I have seen these made as wide as a several counties, an entire state and the entire United States. I have seen many physicians overlook these clauses when they exit jobs with other practices and unfortunately sometimes find themselves on the receiving end of injunctions and lawsuits.  

Click here to read one of my prior blogs and learn more about restrictive covenants.

Failing to Make Proper Arrangements for Medical Records.

When health care providers retire, relocate or cease practicing, they are still required to maintain their records so that patients can access them when needed. The records of active patients are fairly easy to transition to another health care provider or facility. Usually, a healthcare provider or facility will need to pay a record custodian to maintain their old medical records.

To learn more about the importance of maintaining medical records, click here to read one of my priot blogs.

Failing to Provide Adequate Contact Information.

Physicians and other health care providers should always leave adequate forwarding information. Patients may need to contact them. Payors may need to contact them as well, especially in situations when audits and adjustments are concerned.

Physicians contemplating retirement, selling, or leaving a medical practice should carefully plan their actions and consult experienced counsel to avoid these mistakes.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Complex Litigation.

At the Health Law Firm we provide legal services for all health care providers and professionals. This includes physicians, nurses, dentists, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, Durable Medical Equipment suppliers, medical students and interns, hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, pain management clinics, nursing homes, and any other health care provider. We represent facilities, individuals, groups and institutions in contracts, sales, mergers and acquisitions.

The services we provide include disputes with health insurers, defense of audits, litigation of overpayment demands, reviewing and negotiating contracts, business transactions, professional license defense, representation in investigations, credential defense, representation in peer review and clinical privileges hearings, Medicare and Medicaid audits, commercial litigation, and administrative hearings. Our attorneys litigate in state courts, federal courts, state administrative hearings and federal administrative hearings. We represent plaintiffs and defendants in complex litigation matters.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at


Barton, Hugh. “The 10 Biggest Legal Mistakes Physicians Make in Closing or Leaving a Medical Practice.” SEAK Inc. (May 14, 2018). Web.

Smith, Michael L., “Deceased Patient's Right to Medical Record Confidentiality.” The Health Law Firm. (March 6, 2013). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

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