TMB updates rules for physicians who retire, close, or leave a practice

November 22, 2019 Laura Hale Brockway

Physicians who are retiring, closing, or leaving a practice can now notify patients electronically and by posting a notice on their practice website, according to recent rule changes made by the Texas Medical Board (TMB). 1

Required notification of discontinuation of practice — updated

According to TMB Rules Chapter 165.5(a)(1-3):  “When a physician retires, terminates employment, or otherwise leaves a medical practice, he or she is responsible for:

  • Ensuring that patients receive reasonable notification;
  • Ensuring that patients are given an opportunity to obtain copies of their records or arrange for the transfer of their medical records to another physician;
  • Notifying the Texas Medical Board when he/she is terminating practice, retiring or relocating, and will no longer be available to patients;
  • Specifying who has custodianship of the records; and
  • Advising how copies of the medical records may be obtained.”
     

(2) Notification shall be accomplished by:

      (A) EITHER:
             (I)  Posting such notice on the physician's or practice website; OR
             (ii) Publishing a notice in the newspaper of greatest general circulation in each county in which the physician practices or practiced and in a local newspaper that serves the immediate practice area; AND
      (B) Placing written notice in the physician's office; AND
      (C) Notifying patients seen in the last two years of the physician's discontinuance of practice BY EITHER:
            (i)  Sending a letter to each patient; OR
            (ii) Sending an email to each patient, in a manner that is compliant with state and federal law.

(3) A copy of the posted notices shall be submitted to the TMB within 30 days from the date of termination, sale, or relocation of practice.

(4) Notices placed in the physician's office shall be placed in a conspicuous location in or on the facade of the physician's office as a sign announcing the termination, sale or relocation of the practice. The sign shall be placed at least 30 days prior to the termination, sale or relocation of the practice and shall remain until the date of termination, sale or relocation.” 1


Leaving a group practice

These rule changes also apply when leaving a group practice, as the departing physician is responsible for providing proper notification. The physician must notify the TMB and his/her patients, and advise who has custodianship of the medical records and how a copy may be obtained.

Those remaining in the practice must be careful not to interfere with the departing physician fulfilling these responsibilities. The TMB has rules prohibiting the practice or physician group from interfering. (2)

Prohibition Against Interference 165.5(c)(1-2) rules state that:
(1) Other licensed physicians remaining in the practice may not prevent the departing physician from posting notice and the sign;

(2) A physician, physician group, or organization may not withhold information from a departing physician that is necessary for notification of patients. 2

“When requested, the practice should provide the departing physician with the contact information of his/her patients to ensure the departing physician is allowed to fulfill patient notification responsibilities, and to avoid TMB disciplinary sanctions for the remaining physicians and possible legal risk to the practice.” 3

 

Sources
1. Texas Medical Board. Texas Medical Board Rules Chapter 165.5(a)(1-3) Transfer and Disposal of Medical Records. Accessed November 20, 2019.

2. Texas Medical Board. Texas Medical Board Rules Chapter 165.5(c)(1-2) Prohibition Against Interference. Accessed November 20, 2019.

3. Harris County Medical Society. Leaving a group practice. Accessed November 20, 2019.

About the Author

Laura Hale Brockway is the Assistant Vice President of Marketing at TMLT. She has more than 20 years of marketing and management experience, and has worked for Seton Healthcare Family and the Texas Academy of Family Physicians. Laura holds an Editor in Life Science (ELS) certification from the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences.

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