By Nora T. Ciancio
Being a newly licensed doctor and finishing schooling and training is an exciting time in any physician’s career. As expected, when a physician starts their first position, whether as a hospitalist where they just finished their residency program or a locums position, their focus is typically on their work, the patients, and the new environment. The last thing on their mind is paperwork and preplanning for any legal issues they may face down the road, but it should be! Using this checklist will help to avoid or minimize future problems.
1.Do not assume that your employer has it all handled. Ask specific questions and know what your role is versus their role in setting up your practice and protecting you from future investigations or claims. For example, are they handling credentialing with third party payors? What address – your personal address or the practice’s is listed for future inquiries, recredentialing and complaints? How will you be notified if the practice receives any of the aforementioned notices? Will the hospital set you up with an attorney to assist? Are you covered under their malpractice insurance? Do they suggest you hold an additional policy? The list goes on.
2. Make sure your contact information is up to date. Check and change your address of record, phone number, and email address as needed with any government agencies, private payor, or other organizations that may need to get in touch with you regarding complaints, notifications, or investigations, including the Board of Medicine, CMS, and commercial insurance. Under the law, the provider is typically responsible for maintaining current contact information. If not, you can miss important deadlines, including appeal opportunities for adverse actions taken against you.
3. Review your employment contract. Make sure you know what you have signed and your responsibilities under the contract, especially regarding any reporting requirements for investigations and disciplinary actions.
4. Be truthful on any applications and inquiries. Make sure you are truthfully answering questions about prior criminal actions, investigations and disciplinary actions on any new job applications, credentialing/recredentialing questionnaires, and license applications/renewals. Being less than candid typically gets you into more trouble in the long run and can lead to, among other things, sanctions from the Board of Medicine and termination.
5. Review your practice regulations. I know that the last thing any provider wants to do is to read boring laws, but if there is any question down the road, you will be held to these standards. Ignorance of the law is not a defense! Review the laws and regulations governing the practice of medicine annually for any changes and pay attention to new guidance documents released by the Board. You can find the laws and regulations at the Virginia Board of Medicine website.
6. Do not assume your employer is doing everything right. Approach any new job or position with a healthy amount of skepticism and recognition that there are a lot of practices and practitioners out there doing things that are not in accordance with current laws and regulations. Play an active role in ensuring that your practice, including prescribing and supervision of PAs, NPs, and nurses, follows the law. When in doubt, consult a lawyer!
Nora Ciancio joined Goodman Allen Donnelly in 2017 and has focused on representing healthcare professionals in licensing and discipline matters before their professional boards. She also offers representation in Medicaid and Medicare provider appeals, credentialing and third-party payor audits, as well as advises practices on regulatory and compliance issues. goodmanallen.com