Starting/Closing a Practice

Starting a Practice

What information is available on starting a practice?

AMA has developed resources to help physicians start a practice or transition into a practice setting. Click here for AMA’s resources.


What information is available on closing a practice or retiring?

MAG has developed a retirement guide for physicians which can be found here. 

Can I treat my relatives?

The Georgia Composite Medical Board has not issued a rule on the subject, but it has stated that it does not believe physicians should treat immediate family members.

AMA has stated that physicians generally should not treat themselves or members of their immediate families. AMA notes that there are exceptions for routine care for short-term, minor problems. Except in emergencies, AMA says it is not appropriate for physicians to write prescriptions for controlled substances for themselves or immediate family members. AMA E-8.19

Medicare bars payment for items and services rendered by physicians to immediate relatives of the physician, to the physician’s partner in a partnership, or to members of their household. “Immediate relatives” is defined to include husband and wife; natural or adoptive parent, child and sibling; stepparent, stepchild, stepbrother, and stepsister; father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, and sister-in-law; grandparent and grandchild; and spouse of grandparent and grandchild. Medicare Benefit Policy Manual, Chapter 16, Section 130

Physicians should consult their contracts with commercial payers to find out if they are subject to rules about treating relatives. Medical malpractice insurance companies may have legal or risk management concerns about this practice. Contact them for advice.

Do physicians need to wear name tags in their office?

Yes, all health professionals must wear name tags in a health care setting with a few exceptions. Please click here for more information.

Is it legal for a physician to own a pharmacy and refer to it?

Yes, a physician may refer patients to a self-owned pharmacy if the pharmacy is in the same building as the physician’s practice. However, if the pharmacy is separate from the practice,a physician may not refer patients to a self-owned pharmacy. A physician cannot self-refer for Medicare and Medical patients under Stark law.

A physician can have ownership in a pharmacy as long as they do not refer patients there under AMA guidelines.  AMA E-8.0321 and AMA E-8.06

Retirement/Closing a practice 

What notice do I need to give patients when I am closing my practice? 

When ending a physician-patient relationship, a physician must take appropriate steps to avoid a claim of “patient abandonment.” Abandonment is defined as the termination of a professional relationship between physician and patient at an unreasonable time and without giving the patient the chance to find an equally qualified replacement.  

Issues for the Retiring Physician