Patient Notification When an Ohio Physician’s Employment Terminates
As of March 22, 2013, Ohio House Bill 417 requires patient notification by mail when a physician’s employment with a medical group, hospital or certain other health care entities terminates.
Previously, if an Ohio physician left a practice, sold his/her practice or retired, the physician was required to notify his/her patients of such change by publishing a notice in local newspapers, posting a sign in a conspicuous location at his/her practice or mailing a notice to patients. The Ohio State Medical Association raised concerns that Ohio patients were not receiving notification appropriate to protect the physician-patient relationship when a physician’s employment terminates.
To address this concern, HB 417 created RC §4731.228. Under this new statutory section, if a physician’s employment with a health care entity terminates, the entity must mail a termination notice to the physician’s patients, unless the entity requires the physician to send the notice.
Under RC §4731.228, “termination” means the end of a physician’s employment with a health care entity for any reason. A “health care entity” is defined as any of the following that employs a physician to provide physician services: (1) a hospital registered with the Ohio Department of Health, (2) an Ohio for-profit or nonprofit corporation, (3) an Ohio limited liability company, (4) an Ohio health insuring corporation, (5) a partnership or (6) an Ohio professional corporation.
Patient Notice. A health care entity must send notice of the termination to each patient who received direct patient care services from the physician during the two-year period immediately preceding the physician’s date of termination. Alternatively, the health care entity may require the physician to send the termination notice to his/her patients. In this situation, the entity must provide a list of patients treated and patient contact information to the physician.
The notice must be sent no later than the date of termination or 30 days after the health care entity has actual knowledge of termination or resignation of the physician, whichever is later. The notice must comply with rules to be adopted by the Ohio State Medical Board and must include at least the following:
Notice that the physician will no longer be practicing medicine as an employee of the health care entity
Except in situations in which the health care entity has a good faith concern that the physician’s conduct or medical care would jeopardize health and safety of patients, the physician’s name and, if known by the health care entity, information provided by the physician that the patient may use to contact the physician
The date on which the physician ceased or will cease to practice as an employee of the health care entity
Contact information for alternative physician(s) employed by the health care entity or contact information for a group practice that can provide care for the patient
Contact information that enables the patient to obtain information on the patient’s medical records
Exemptions. RC §4731.228 exempts the following individuals from its requirements:
A physician rending services to a patient on an episodic basis or in an emergency department or urgent care center, when it should not be reasonably expected that related medical services will be rendered by the physician to the patient in the future
A medical director providing services to patients through a hospice care program
Medical residents, interns and fellows providing patient services as part of their medical education and training
A physician providing services to patients through a community mental health agency or an alcohol and drug addiction program
A physician providing services to a patient through a federally qualified health center or a federally qualified health center look-alike
Conclusion. Not later than Sept. 22, 2013, the Ohio State Medical Board must revise its regulations to be consistent with RC §4731.228. However, because this statutory provision became effective on March 22, 2013, health care entities that employ physicians should immediately review and update their policies and procedures related to the termination of physician-employees to comply with the new requirements.
This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader must consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader's specific circumstances.