By: Marcus Leonard
The role of medical directors
Apart from the thousands of screaming fans, the role of a medical director is analogous to the role of the head coach on your favorite sports team as both are undoubtedly invaluable to an organization’s success but are also required to absorb responsibility if expectations are not met. A medical director’s role is so vital because a licensed health care clinic in Florida may not operate or be maintained without the day-to-day supervision of a single medical or clinic director. In Florida, medical or clinic directors are paramount to facilities and clinics maintaining a high quality of care and operating while in compliance with the law.
By law, a medical director must be a health care practitioner that holds an active and unencumbered Florida license as a medical physician, osteopathic physician, chiropractic physician, or podiatric physician. It is important to note that a license that is suspended or has not been renewed is considered an encumbered license. The type of services provided at a clinic may dictate who would be able to serve as a clinic’s medical director. A medical director must be authorized under law to supervise all services provided at the clinic, therefore, a clinic that provides general health and wellness services cannot be supervised by a chiropractic or podiatric physician because of limitations to the scope of practice.
Each clinic shall appoint a medical director or clinic director who shall agree in writing to accept legal responsibility for the following activities on behalf of the clinic. The medical director or the clinic director shall:
(a) Have signs identifying the medical director or clinic director posted in a conspicuous location within the clinic readily visible to all patients.
(b) Ensure that all practitioners providing health care services or supplies to patients maintain a current active and unencumbered Florida license.
(c) Review any patient referral contracts or agreements executed by the clinic.
(d) Ensure that all health care practitioners at the clinic have active appropriate certification or licensure for the level of care being provided.
(e) Serve as the clinic records owner.
(f) Ensure compliance with the record keeping, office surgery, and adverse incident reporting requirements.
(g) Conduct systematic reviews of clinic billings to ensure that the billings are not fraudulent or unlawful.
This non-exhaustive list works as a general guideline of responsibilities that a medical director would follow to ensure that clinics and facilities are operating efficiently and within the defined legal parameters. Although the medical director’s responsibilities are immense, there are restraints to the role such as the number of clinics one medical director can supervise at any time. Additionally, geographic restrictions and rules governing a medical director’s presence at facilities help regulate medical directors’ duties.
The risk for medical directors and their facilities
The role of a medical director includes several inherent risks including legal risks for professional liability, regulatory compliance, and board complaints. Failure of an appointed medical or clinic director to substantially comply with health care clinic responsibilities shall be grounds for the revocation or suspension of the license and assessment of a fine. In some cases, clinics may not be absolved from liability caused by a medical director. Health care clinics may be found liable for their medical directors’ failure to fulfill their statutory duties. Additionally, the health care clinic’s responsibilities cannot be met without an active, appointed medical or clinic director. Consequently, the law is clear in explaining that a health care clinic without a medical or clinic director is subject to revocation of licensing and the assessment of fines.
As more clinics and health care facilities open, more licensed practitioners will be hoisted into the role of a medical director. This role requires navigation through a complex labyrinth of compliance and legal responsibilities. Whether you are a clinic in search of a new medical director or you are a physician who is considering serving as a one, Jones Health Law can lend a helping hand. Our firm is well equipped with knowledgeable and experienced health law attorneys who can assist you with any questions or concerns regarding the responsibilities and requirements of medical directors.
It should be noted that I am not your lawyer (unless you have presently retained my services through a retainer agreement). This post is not intended as legal advice, it is purely educational and informational, and no attorney-client relationship shall result after reading it. Please consult your own attorney for legal advice. If you do not have one and would like to retain my legal services, please contact me using the contact information listed above.
All information and references made to laws, rules, regulations, and advisory opinions were accurate based on the law as it existed at this time, but laws are constantly evolving. Please contact me to be sure that the law which will govern your business is current. Thank you.