24-Hour Emergency Coverage Required?

May 1, 2009

I am contemplating leaving a salaried position and starting a cash-only or cash/Medicaid outpatient practice without any hospital privileges. Am I obligated to provide 24 hour/365 day emergency coverage for my patients if I told them up front that I would not be taking call and had no hospital privileges?

Question: I am contemplating leaving a salaried position and starting a cash-only or cash/Medicaid outpatient practice without any hospital privileges. Am I obligated to provide 24 hour/365 day emergency coverage for my patients if I told them up front that I would not be taking call and had no hospital privileges?

Answer: There is no obligation to provide after-hours care, but in a malpractice suit you would be expected to provide care equal to community standards in your specialty.

If a case regarding after-hours coverage made it to court and the patients were willing to admit they had been informed, you have a good defense, but it is risky.

Bottom line: Chat with your malpractice carrier.