What to Do When Closing a Practice

Guidelines for Practice Success | Managing Professional Risks | Transitions and Other Changes

Closing a dental practice, for any reason, is not an easy decision. It’s also not always an easy process to navigate. Some of the things that need to be done include:

  • informing patients and authorities of the closure
  • dismissing staff
  • disposing of dental equipment, supplies and instruments
  • protecting patient records.

Before closing the doors, be sure you’ve:

Gotten competent professional advice to help determine whether the practice should be closed or whether it might be better to sell it to another dentist.
  • Advisors might include an attorney, an accountant or dental practice valuator.
  • You should also notify your professional liability carrier to ensure that you’re aware of their recommendations for managing the process.
  • This can be an important consideration if the practice is being closed because the dentist has passed away.

Reviewed state laws that may apply to specific requirements for record retention and for notifying patients and employees of the decision to close.

Determined what to do with any dental equipment, supplies and medicaments on the premises.

  • The salvage or resale value of any dental equipment will vary depending on the age of the equipment, whether it’s compatible with other systems, how difficult it is to move, etc.
    • A professional dental equipment appraiser or a reputable supplier can often provide independent estimations about the worth of particular equipment.
  • Check expiration dates before selling or donating dental supplies, especially chemicals and medicaments.
    • Supplies that are at – or near – their expiration dates could be unsafe or ineffective if used.
    • Check with your supplier to see if it’s possible to return unopened supplies for a refund.
    • Properly dispose of any expired and or opened bottles, containers or packages since the viability of their contents is unknown.

Before making this change:

  • Take a comprehensive and objective look at the practice’s operations and financials.
  • Consult an attorney early in the process to ensure your assets are protected and that you’re in compliance with any relevant state and federal laws.
  • Contact your professional liability company to see if they have recommendations or suggestions to help guide you through the process.
  • Be mindful of the potential risks.
    • Develop actionable plans to eliminate, or at least lessen, any challenges you could encounter along the way.
    • Consult with your professional liability company to determine if you have the right liability insurance in place to protect you after the sale of your practice.