We’ve dealt with many physicians who feel that once their practices are closed, and they’ve made arrangements for the custodial storage of their records, their job is done. That’s not altogether true.
What about the diagnostic test results that continue to stream in after practice closure?
It is the responsibility of the physician to ensure that there is appropriate review of any and all test results that come in after the practice is closed.
At RSRS, we generally suggest that test requisitions stop at least a couple of weeks prior to closure and that patients are referred to another physician, walk-in clinic, etc. to initiate the testing. However, even then there are still those patients who have held on to their requisitions for a bit prior to having the testing done.
If you’re retaining your license to practice, you can certainly continue to review all late incoming results and notify regarding follow up as necessary. At RSRS we will file all late incoming reports, labs, etc. However, they must all be accompanied by a stamp or initials of the physician attesting to the fact that they’ve been reviewed, otherwise they’re sent back.
You can also appoint another doctor in your place to review the results.
In February 2011, the CPSO updated their policy with respect to Test Review Management. This is important reading, and the full text can be found here. There are a number of important recommendations made here, among them and relevant to the topic of practice closure, is the idea of involving your patients in the process. It does not relieve you of your responsibilities regarding review, but it does much to mitigate risk:
“It is often beneficial to involve patients in the management of their own test results and to encourage them to be active participants in their own care. While not appropriate for every patient, some patients may welcome the opportunity to phone in for their results after an appropriate interval. Encouraging patients to get involved in the follow-up process does not relieve the physician of their duty to follow up, but it may add a layer of protection to the test results management system and may be empowering for patients.”