Missing: One medical provider
April 5, 2024 2:13 PM   Subscribe

I got a call from my doctors office saying that my physician (one of three in the office) "Lost the practice" and that I'll need to find a new physician. What does "lost the practice" mean? Probably a lot of things, but I have no idea what. Is there any reason to be concerned that they might have practiced medicine in a negligent way, or is this something that might indicate I should avoid this clinic entirely? (In the United States.)
posted by Ookseer to Health & Fitness (7 answers total)
Was this via voicemail, or did you talk to the person at the doctor's office? Are you 100% certain the caller didn't say your physician LEFT the practice, rather than lost it? Over the phone, those can sound shockingly similar.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 2:15 PM on April 5 [7 favorites]

Search the internet for your doctor's name. If they did something wrong, it will likely turn up in a news story.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:38 PM on April 5 [1 favorite]

Were they elderly? I have heard (and this link seems to agree) that at some age malpractice insurance becomes prohibitively expensive (although they say it's more a matter of longer in practice, more likely they will get sued).
posted by forthright at 3:11 PM on April 5

You can contact the state board to see if the doctor's license is still active or if there is an investigation or complaint/disciplinary issue. Sometimes you can just search for their name on th website to see if they are still licensed. Alternatively your doctor may have been unable to maintain his malpractice insurance due to age, expense, or pending complaints/lawsuits.

I've seen "lost the practice" used as a way to say a person lost their license to practice medicine, but I've also seen it used to say the doctor sold their medical practice to another doctor (or to a company/investor) or they were bought out by the equity partners and so they're no longer involved and won't keep seeing the patients in that practice.

Call and ask the front desk if you can follow your doctor to another clinic or where he went, that should help clarify a bit.
posted by zdravo at 3:49 PM on April 5 [4 favorites]

I've worked in health care for 3 decades, including a stint in physician credentialing, and I've never heard the term "lost the practice" and would not assume that it meant that they were no longer able to practice. Maybe it's a regionalism? But it is far more likely they said that the physician left the practice.

I do want to note that information about physicians practicing poorly can be extremely difficult to find out. John Oliver has covered it here, but the short of it is that state medical boards are not required to be transparent about ongoing investigations and settled issues. There is no reason to assume any issues will be covered on the news unless they found a stack of bodies in a storeroom or something, and whether you can learn anything helpful from the medical board depends on your particular state's board.

If you don't have any particular concerns or reasons to be worried, I would just work on finding a new doctor and not worry about it.
posted by jeoc at 4:26 PM on April 5 [7 favorites]

Also, one of the civil juries I was on was medical malpractice, and at least in that one case it was clearly a victim whose story was paper thin and didn't survive cross-examination. The doctor was from a highly regarded hospital and there was no evidence of any negligence. The jury was unanimous in awarding $0. All that was just to say that a malpractice claim is not necessarily proof of malpractice.
posted by forthright at 5:10 PM on April 5

It would be normal for a large medical corporation to give you a generic "left the practice" vs any other verb that starts with an l and ends with a t.

My money is on the speaker intending to say "left."
posted by zippy at 10:15 PM on April 5 [5 favorites]

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