Action Items for the Estate When a Solo Doctor or Dental Professional Passes Away
When a solo physician or dentist dies, the physician’s estate need to determine what to do with the practice. Because the doctor practiced solo, there are no partners who will continue the practice. The estate can not operate the practice because it’s not licensed to practice medication or dentistry. Typically the estate has 2 options, either sell the practice or wind it down.
Preliminary Steps. Prior to doing anything else, take these initial steps.
– Step # 1: Alert the CA Medical or Dental Board of the doctor’s death.
– Action # 2: Inform the federal Drug Enforcement Administration of the physician’s death. When you notify the DEA, you ought to get instructions on how to get rid of the remaining drugs and controlled substances.
– Step # 3: Talk with the office manager of the practice to identify the supervisor’s availability to assist wind down the practice, and to develop a plan of action.
– Step # 4: Find an organisation broker who specializes in the sale of medical or oral practices.
What to Do with the Practice Throughout the Interim Phase.
During the interim period while the estate is selling the practice or winding it down, you will require a physician to operate the practice.
– For dental experts, the law is clear. At the death of a dentist, the executor of the estate may use certified dental professionals and dental assistants and charge for their services for as much as 12 months after death. Ideally, the short-lived dental professional keeps the practice running so that you can sell 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 might not itself operate, and might not work with a physician to operate the practice throughout the interim duration when the estate is attempting to offer the practice or wind it down. Keep in mind that the estate is unlicensed. This indicates that, according to the law as written, the estate must either offer or close down the practice instantly upon the death of the physician. In the past, the CA Medical Board has actually permitted the estate to bring in a physician to cover the practice for the interim duration while the practice is being sold. The CA Medical Board did so on a casual basis, however, and I can’t inform you that it has a policy of using this advantage. My suggestions is for the estate agent to call the CA Medical Board and discuss the circumstance, and want to get informal authorization to bring in such a protection doctor on a momentary basis. If given permission to do so, the estate must move fast in getting rid of the medical practice. I have actually seen estates that operated a practice as much as one year after the physician’s death. This is certainly an abuse of the leeway offered by the CA Medical Board, and most likely makes up the unlicensed practice of medicine by the estate, which is illegal.
If you sell the practice, the staff members hopefully can continue with the getting medical professional. If you can’t offer the practice, then think about having the office manager manage the winding down of the practice, including termination of employment, payment of amounts owed at termination, COBRA notifications, and so on. The office supervisor can monitor most other actions required for the unwinding also, for instance, the offering of patient notifications, payment of practice obligations, and the collection of balance dues. You may have to pay the workplace supervisor a little extra to remain around for this work.
Patient records are like hazardous waste: no one desires them and nobody understands the length of time to store them. Your best choice is to discover a physician to take the clients and the patient records. If a patient requests his/her client records, thank the patient, and deliver the records to the patient instantly.
If you can’t find a doctor to take the client records, then for how long should the estate shop the records? I have no easy answer. There is no basic law needing a physician to maintain medical records for a particular period of time. Various laws have different requirements, for example, 3 or 5 or 7 years. Most litigators encourage that you hold client records for ten years, on the theory that most claims have disappeared after ten years.
If nothing else, the estate should get in touch with the physician’s insurance carrier to determine its requirements for record retention. You do not wish to breach the agreement for malpractice insurance. Numerous carriers provide a lower period for maintaining records after a doctor’s death. The estate ought to hold the records for at least the time period required by the insurance business.
Keep the physician’s malpractice policy in location till it ends. For high-risk practices, think about purchasing a tail policy. Keep copies of the doctor’s prior policies until you feel safe from malpractice claims versus the deceased medical professional.
One Year Statute of Limitations.
Lastly, talk with the estate’s lawyer about the statute of constraints for estate and probate matters. There is an one-year statute of limitations for bringing a claim against an estate which starts to run from the date of the death of the doctor, no matter whether the claimant knows about it. The 1 year statute of limitations may cut off a great deal of possible claims against the estate.
Depending on the nature of the medical professional’s practice, you may feel comfortable depending on this brief 1 year period for security from patient, financial institution and other third-party claims against the deceased medical professional. This is a difficult decision, but it’s an important decision, so make certain to speak about it with your attorney.