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Legal FAQs
Leaving a Group
What notice do I need to give patients when I am leaving a group?

Indiana has rules governing case withdrawal and discontinuance of practice. The Case Withdrawal Rule requires physicians to give patients reasonable written notice if they are not going to provide the patient further care. 844 IAC 5-2-4. If you do not wish to treat the patient any more, if you cannot “take” the patient with you, or if the patient must formally transfer their care to you for any reason, you must provide them such notice.

The Discontinuance of Practice Rule requires that you notify all active patients (seen within the last two years) in writing or provide them with notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the community once a week for three consecutive weeks that you are retiring, discontinuing your practice, or leaving or moving from a community. 844 IAC 5-2-16. As a practical matter, newspaper notice is generally not very effective.

Providing patients notice is sometimes difficult if a physician is leaving a group that will not provide the physician with access to patient contact information. However, the physician and the group need to work something out, ideally in both the employment agreement (foresight) and in the separation agreement. Indiana law indicates that the departing physician is ultimately responsible. Failure to provide patients with proper notice could result in abandonment claims and action against the physician by the Indiana Medical Licensing Board. Patients must also be provided access to a copy of their medical records.

What happens to my patients’ medical records when I leave a group?

Indiana law only states that patient medical records are the property of the provider, which can be an individual physician or an employing group or facility. IC 16-39-5-3 & IC 16-18-2-295. Ideally, a physician’s employment agreement would state who the patients and their medical records “belong” to. If it does not, this should be addressed in the terms of any separation agreement, along with patient notification obligations. If these issues are not addressed in either agreement, the parties will have to reach a separate agreement on these issues. Regardless of the outcome, patients will have to be notified about where they can receive future care and how they can obtain copies of their medical records.

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