Originally Posted by Rilchiam
Is this the only way you could have found out? No letter, phone call or email? Or did you get a letter afterwards? How long before last week did he die?
Depending on how many patients the doctor serves, it may take a seriously long time to notify all of his patients. I don't think most offices have a "print envelopes for all patients on record" option in their scheduling system so the staff can stuff letters into them. They were probably doing their own grieving while simultaneously scrambling to cancel/reschedule/find coverage for visits scheduled for that week and in the near future. The OP was only coming in to get a prescription refilled, which they couldn't have predicted, so I don't blame them.
Having dealt with a couple of doctors leaving the practice, what we did was just notify patients as we worked through the schedules for each upcoming clinic day, to notify them of the new doctor covering that clinic.
The doctor we had who died had actually retired the previous year, moved far away, and died within days after 9/11/01, so we ended up just calling a few patients important to him and just mentioning it to former patients as they came in for visits, I think.
(For that doctor, it was skin cancer. He was a cardiologist but had a lifelong fondness for getting tan at Carnivale in Rio. Died in his early 70s IIRC.)