Action Items for the Estate When a Solo Physician or Dentist Passes Away

Due to the fact that the medical professional practiced solo, there are no partners who will continue the practice. The estate can not run the practice because it’s not licensed to practice medicine or dentistry.

Preliminary Actions. Before doing anything else, take these initial steps.
– Step # 1: Notify the CA Medical or Dental Board of the doctor’s death.

– Step # 2: Notify the federal Drug Enforcement Administration of the doctor’s death. When you notify the DEA, you ought to receive directions on how to get rid of the remaining drugs and controlled substances.
– Action # 3: Talk with the office supervisor of the practice to determine the supervisor’s accessibility to assist wind down the practice, and to create a plan of action.

– Step # 4: Find a company broker who specializes in the sale of medical or dental practices.
What to Do with the Practice During the Interim Phase.

During the interim period while the estate is offering the practice or winding it down, you will require a doctor to operate the practice.
– For dentists, the law is clear. At the death of a dentist, the executor of the estate might employ licensed dental professionals and oral assistants and charge for their services for approximately 12 months after death. Preferably, the short-term dentist keeps the practice running so that you can offer it as a going issue 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 run the practice during the interim period when the estate is trying to offer the practice or wind it down. Keep in mind that the estate is unlicensed. This means that, according to the law as composed, the estate must either sell or close down the practice instantly upon the death of the physician. In the past, the CA Medical Board has allowed the estate to bring in 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 providing this advantage. My advice is for the estate agent to call the CA Medical Board and describe the scenario, and want to get informal approval to generate such a coverage doctor on a short-lived basis. If granted approval to do so, the estate must move quick in disposing of the medical practice. I have seen estates that ran a practice as much as one year after the doctor’s death. This is certainly an abuse of the leeway given by the CA Medical Board, and most likely constitutes the unlicensed practice of medicine by the estate, which is illegal.

If you offer the practice, the workers hopefully can continue with the getting medical professional. If you can’t offer the practice, then consider having the workplace manager deal with the winding down of the practice, consisting of termination of employment, payment of amounts owed at termination, COBRA notifications, and so on. The workplace manager can monitor most other actions required for the winding down also, for example, the offering of client notifications, payment of practice obligations, and the collection of accounts receivable. You may have to pay the workplace manager a little extra to stay around for this work.
Patient Records.

Patient records resemble nuclear waste: nobody desires them and no one understands the length of time to store them. Your best option is to discover a doctor to take the patients and the patient records. If a client demands his/her client records, thank the client, and deliver the records to the patient immediately.
If you can’t find a doctor to take the patient records, then how long should the estate shop the records? I have no easy response. There is no basic law needing a doctor to preserve medical records for a specific time period. Various laws have different requirements, for example, 3 or 5 or 7 years. The majority of litigators advise that you hold client records for ten years, on the theory that most claims have disappeared after ten years.

If absolutely nothing else, the estate should contact the physician’s insurance coverage carrier to identify its requirements for record retention. You do not want to breach the agreement for malpractice insurance coverage. Many providers offer a reduced period for retaining records after a physician’s death. The estate ought to hold the records for at least the duration of time needed by the insurer.
Malpractice Insurance.

Keep the physician’s malpractice policy in location until it expires. For high-risk practices, consider purchasing a tail policy. Keep copies of the medical professional’s previous policies up until you feel safe from malpractice claims against the deceased doctor.
One Year Statute of Limitations.

Lastly, talk with the estate’s attorney about the statute of constraints for estate and probate matters. There is an one-year statute of constraints for bringing a claim versus an estate which starts to run 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 physician’s practice, you may feel comfortable depending on this brief 1 year period for defense from patient, lender and other third-party claims versus the deceased medical professional. This is a tough decision, but it’s a crucial choice, so be sure to discuss it with your attorney.