Whether you have plans to sell your existing healthcare practice or are contemplating buying a new one, you must be aware of the complexities involved with such transactions. Transferring a healthcare practice requires more than making an offer and signing a purchase agreement.
To make a success transition, you will need to begin planning as far in advance as one year. Consulting with an experienced healthcare attorney is an added benefit throughout the entire process. There are many moving parts that an attorney can help to ensure nothing is left undone.
Notifying Patients and Employees
Many issues require meticulous consideration when you are selling a healthcare practice. One of the first things you must do is notify patients of your plans. They need enough time to find another physician and have their medical records transferred. This is directly related to your duty as a physician to provide proper care to patients.
Assuring continuity of care is just as important as giving patients advanced notice about the sale. You will also need to ensure that, for patients who wish to remain at the practice, medical records are transferred properly to the new owners. Securing the custody and transfer of medical records involves providing copies to three groups:
• Purchasing physician
• Separate medical office with patient authorization
The originals should remain in proper custody. Compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is crucial in doing the right things. Failure to do any of this can be interpreted as patient abandonment. The last thing you need is accusations of malpractice and professional misconduct.
Additionally, you must also consider your responsibility as an employer. An attorney can review employment contracts and make sure you meet all obligations to employees during the course of selling your practice.
Protocol for Controlled Substances
Transferring your healthcare practice also requires the proper handling of controlled substances. If you do not intend to continue practicing, you must surrender your Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registration. Any unused samples must be disposed of properly.
Most likely during the years of running a practice, your office has entered into various types of vendor contracts. Each one, including insurance companies and equipment suppliers, should be reviewed to determine if you have any legal obligations to cancel or assign the contracts to the new owners.
How the Anti-Kickback Statute May Affect the Sale or Purchase
One very important issue is ensuring the financial arrangements of the sale does not violate the federal Anti-Kickback statute. Other laws and regulations that apply to providing health services are equally important. Depending on the entity that is buying your practice, some laws and regulations – including payment method – could affect the transaction. If all contractual arrangements aren’t handled properly, you may face a criminal investigation – and require a criminal attorney to help.
One misstep, and you may not just suffer a monetary loss when the sale fails, but you also risk professional and legal consequences. Getting help from an experienced attorney will sure the sale or purchase of a healthcare practice goes smoothly.
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