When a physician leaves practice for any reason, whether it is to relocate or retire, it is mandatory that there is a timely and appropriate notification to regulatory authorities and patients. There must be assurance of continuity of patient care, follow up of outstanding results and preservation of the patient’s record. All outstanding laboratory tests and investigations must be reviewed and acted upon, and it is imperative that the physician who is relocating or retiring has a mechanism to ensure that the new physician accepting the care of this patient is aware of outstanding investigations and those agencies such as lab and/or x-ray facilities are aware that those reports should be forwarded to the new physician.
These requirements are outlined in the following documents:
POLICY - Physicians/Surgeons Leaving Practice
GUIDELINE – Transfer of Patient Records
CPSS Leaving Practice Guide (Complete Guidelines - includes Leaving Practice Checklist)
Management of Patient Records when Leaving/Relocating Practice
Arrangements must be made for the physician/patient records to be stored and for patients to have reasonable access to copies of their records. Depending on the type of practice and arrangements for the “ownership” of the record, a colleague may undertake this responsibility, or other independent arrangements must be made. The CPSS must be notified of the location of the records and how they can be accessed by patients and/or other health care professionals with the patient’s consent.
In cases where the entire practice is closing, according to CPSS Bylaw 23.1 CPSS Regulatory Bylaws, the records must be securely stored, for six years after the date of last visit, or death, or two years after age 18 for pediatric patients. They must also be accessible by patients or the College during this period of time. The
CMPA recommends retention of medical records for ten years from last entry or
age of majority. Requirements for record storage and transfer upon
leaving practice are stated in the Bylaw.
Further information about proper record transfer procedures can be found in CPSS Guideline: Transfer of Patient Records.
There are a number of options for secure record storage, either through the EMR providers or private companies.
New & Outstanding Service Commitments
Physicians/surgeons leaving practice, who have outstanding service commitments to patients on a waiting list, should:
- 1. Provide as much advance notice as possible to the SHA where you hold a medical staff appointment, to members of a clinical department in which you hold an appointment, referring physicians, and patients.
- 2. Discontinue taking on new service commitments to patients that you are unlikely to conclude prior to your departure.
- 3. Strive to complete as many outstanding service commitments to patients as possible prior to your departure.
- 4. Collaborate with colleagues with comparable expertise to arrange for the continuing care of patients who remain on your wait list at the time of your departure.
- 5. Collaborate with relevant health authorities to ensure that patients to whom you have outstanding service commitments are not displaced from their priority ranking on the wait list.
Additional Legal Resources
For an overview of the retention, access, security, storage, disposal, and transfer of clinical records, see CMPA Medical Records.
Additional information on the continuing duties of trustees, including the use, transfer, and disposition of medical records, can be found in the Health Information Protection Act (HIPA) and in theIPC Guide to HIPA by the Office of the Saskatchewan Information and Privacy Commissioner.