Can a doctor leave a practice without first notifying their patients?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can a doctor leave a practice without first notifying their patients?

I broke my leg a year ago and had been under my doctor’s care. I was seen 3 months ago du to not being able to bend my knee. She suggested having manipulation done. So as soon as my insurance approved the procedure, which they did, she would call me with a date to have it done. I received a letter of the approval.Since I had not heard from her, I called and told them that I got the approval letter. The receptionists said that they got it as well and that her assistant would call me with a date. A week passed but I did not hear back from the assistant. I then called and told the receptionists that I hadn’t heard back. She said that they needed to call the hospital first to get a date and that she would call me with that information. However, a week passed with no call. I noticed that my approval was going to expire. So I again called the doctor’s office and told them that I hadn’t heard anything and that my approval was going to expire in a few days. The receptionist put me on hold and when she returned back she started reading a letter saying my doctor left the practice and what she read to me was the letter that she was going to send all patients. However, I never got any letter informing me of her leaving. That was why the doctor wasn’t scheduling any surgeries she said. I said,

Asked on June 23, 2019 under Malpractice Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It is morally wrong, but it is not legally wrong: there is no legal requirement on a doctor to advise her patients when she is leaving a practice (or, for that matter, when she is retiring, changing specialities, etc.). It could be a medical ethical violation, so you could potentially file a complaint against her (or against the practice, for also not timely notifying you) with the medical licensing board, but there is no legal recourse (i.e. you can't sue).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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