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The Division of Public Health (DPH) understands that hearing your medical practice has been closed can be alarming. The FAQs below are designed to answer your questions and address your concerns.
Under state law, any facility that performs invasive procedures that receives a current employee or patient complaint will be investigated and, if deficiencies are found, dealt with according to the violation. In addition, the state has the authority to investigate a facility that performs invasive procedures if there is an adverse event, and DPH will not hesitate to use to this authority should it become necessary.
When DPH closes a medical office, the agency issues a press release and posts the information on social media.
DPH will close a facility if it cannot be proven that appropriate sanitary or medical procedures are being followed. Once an investigation is finished, the results are public record. To obtain a copy of the record after the investigation is complete, you can submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request at and the information will be sent to you.
Sometimes out of an excess of caution, DPH may recommend consulting with a medical provider on the need for medical testing. This is not necessarily because a patient or employee became ill. The recommendation may be because DPH was unable to confirm that proper sterilization processes were followed. For example, DPH may encourage patients and employees who may have received services at a facility to contact their health care provider to discuss evaluation for such diseases as hepatitis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that may have been transmitted through potentially unsterile equipment.
DPH cannot give medical advice and so consulting with your health care provider is important as he/she can help you assess your risk and the need to be tested.
Tell your doctor what procedures you received at the closed office, when you visited, and any symptoms you have been experiencing. When in doubt, DPH recommends seeking testing for HIV and hepatitis. It is possible to carry these viruses for years without knowing it, and, even if the virus cannot be traced to the closed medical office, knowing your HIV and hepatitis status can help you get treatment and prevent further spread of these viruses.
DPH recognizes that it may be difficult to evaluate patients given the limited amount of information available during an open investigation. Patients will be understandably concerned but the clinician needs to take into consideration the patient’s medical and social history when deciding on any particular course of action when evaluating these patients.
Generally when a facility is closed due to concerns about non-sterile conditions, DPH recommends that you evaluate your patients for blood borne pathogens such as HIV, hepatitis, and other blood borne diseases. Your decision to screen may need to take into account that the incident in question may not be the sole potential exposure for infection. Questions to ask include, but are not limited to:
For further information on blood borne infections in health care settings, visit:
DPH recognizes that the cost of testing may be a concern to some. Most health insurance plans will cover testing. For people without health insurance, free and confidential HIV testing is available. Visit the web https://gettested.cdc.gov and enter your zip code. You will be directed to the nearest free HIV testing site.
The patient may have a right to access their medical record and may obtain a copy of that record or have a copy forwarded to another medical provider. (See the question below regarding whether the provider can charge for the copy.) Your medical provider should have posted a note on the door of their facility with their contact information and provided someone to answer their phone. If you have a complaint that your provider is not complying with these requirements, call the Office of Health Facilities Licensing. If you have questions about other rights, you may want to consult with an attorney.
Yes, medical providers may charge a reasonable fee for a copy of your record as allowed by Delaware Code Title 24, Chapter 17, Medical Practice Act; Section 1761 and its associated Regulation 16.0 – Patient Records; Fee Schedule for Copies.
Complaints against licensed individuals are investigated by the Department of State Division of Professional Regulation and when warranted, disciplinary action is taken by the Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline. DPH works very closely with this division and shares the results of any investigation. Medical licensing information is public record and can be found at http://dpr.delaware.gov.
The reopening of closed facilities is determined on a case-by-case basis. A medical provider may be allowed to reopen if they address all the issues found in the original inspection and pass a follow up inspection. In addition, DPH will conduct one or more surprise inspections to determine if the facility continues to follow appropriate procedures and may remain open.
For additional questions: contact the DPH Office of Health Facilities Licensing.