Under ORC § 4731.228, which will become effective on March 22, 2013, physician groups, hospitals and certain other health care entities will be required to send notice of the termination of a physician’s employment to patients of the health care entity who received services from the physician during the two-year period preceding the termination. Alternatively, the health care entity may provide a list of patients to the physician and require the physician to send the notice.
Among other things, the notice must state the date on which the physician ceased or will cease to be employed by the health care entity, and the notice must provide contact information (i) for the physician (unless the health care entity has a good faith reason to believe that the physician’s conduct or medical care would jeopardize the health and safety of the patient); (ii) for alternative physician(s) employed by the health care entity or a group practice who can provide care for the patient; and (iii) to enable the patient to obtain information on the patient’s medical records. The notice must be provided no later than the date of termination or 30 days after the health care entity has knowledge of the physician’s termination or resignation, whichever is later.
The exact structure of the notice must conform with rules to be adopted by the Ohio State Medical Board. The notice does not have to be given for medical residents, interns and fellows, or if the physician (i) will continue to provide care for the health care entity as an independent contractor; (ii) only provided care on an episodic basis (such as in an ER or urgent care center); (iii) acted as a medical director of a hospice; or (iv) worked through a community mental health agency, alcohol and drug addiction program, or federally qualified health center.
Employers of physicians should examine their existing employment agreements and policies to make sure that they address these requirements in the manner desired by the employer. We believe that most employers will want to be responsible for the notice to be given, or at least have the option to determine who will be responsible for providing the notice. If you have questions about this statute or your physician employment agreements, please contact a member of Taft’s Health and Life Sciences practice group.