For New York State accredited office-based surgery practices (“OBS”), the terms of continued accreditation (varying with an OBS’ specific accrediting agency) often come with strict requirements and guidelines concerning the hiring and retention of employees and independent contractors. Most unexpected (and often overlooked by OBS employers) are the requirements and guidelines that reach far beyond the customary licensure and/or certification requirements and expand into areas that an OBS employer might consider (understandably) to be “private business decisions” or “matters of professional judgment.” It is in these outlying areas that OBS employers must be well versed in order to avoid inadvertent compliance breaches.
When hiring new employees and/or independent contractors, OBS employers must review their accreditation manuals with a specific focus on the following categories of employees and/or contractors:
(a) Registered Nurses: when hiring Registered Nurses, OBS employers must confirm, among other things, (i) instances of treatment requiring the presence of a Registered Nurse(s) (including pre and post operative care), (ii) licensure, continuing education and liability insurance requirements, (iii) requirements concerning maintenance of medical records and supporting documentation and (iv) reporting requirements concerning adverse events;
(b) Physicians’ Assistants and/or Specialists’ Assistants: with regard to Physicians’ Assistants and/or Specialists’ Assistants, special attention must be give to rules and regulations concerning (i) the presence and/or supervision of a physician at the OBS facility, (ii) availability of and/or access to a physicians upon request of the patient, (iii) maintenance of medical record, auditing and quality control initiatives, (iv) licensure, continuing education and liability insurance and (v) reporting requirements concerning adverse events;
(c) Anesthesiologists: in addition to the state and federal laws concerning and/or affecting financial and work relationships among physicians (i.e., Stark Laws, Anti-Kickback Statutes, False Claims Act), OBS employers must review all rules and regulations concerning: (i) the Anesthesiologist’s access and availability to patients, (ii) pre and post operative care directives, (iii) directives concerning maintenance and support of Anesthesia equipment, medication and/or supplies, (iv) maintenance of medical records, auditing and quality control initiatives, (v) board certification, licensure, continuing education, and liability insurance and (vi) reporting requirements concerning adverse events;
It is important to note that most of these “employment requirements” can be outlined as conditions of employment in an employment contract or independent contractor agreement between the OBS employer and the employee/contractor. Documenting and outlining relevant accreditation-mandated employment requirements, in addition to clarifying the potential employee/contractor’s responsibilities and obligations, demonstrates a good faith effort to comply with all applicable accreditation mandates and delegates applicable accountability.