This letter is to correct the impression that doctors do not have a responsibility to provide patients’ records in the event of a practice closing or termination of a physician-patient relationship.
In her articles on the defunct Nason Medical Centers (Jan. 12 and April 6), Lauren Sausser quotes a Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (LLR) spokesperson as saying that “state law doesn’t require doctors to notify their patients when they intend to close their practice. The law does mandate that medical records remain available by request, even after an office closes.”
These assertions are not entirely correct. In fact, the LLR, through the State Board of Medical Examiners and its statutory authority, has specific guidelines that must be followed.
Failure to do so may violate laws concerning patient abandonment and neglect, record keeping and privacy.
We are not in a position to opine on the specifics of the Nason Medical Centers’ situation mentioned in the article.
However, it is important to reassure the public that mechanisms for the safe and efficient transfer of medical care and records are well-established, and that the ethical tenets of our profession bind us to the best interests of our patients regardless of the circumstances.
Marcelo Hochman, M.D.
Chair, Medicolegal Committee
Shane Woolf, M.D.
President, Charleston County