BEWARE OF CORPORATE PRACTICE OF MEDICINE LAWS BEFORE INTEGRATING YOUR PRACTICE
By: Albert R. Meyer, JD, MHA
The corporate practice of medicine doctrine has been around for many years and in some cases over a century. The doctrine essentially prohibits unlicensed persons from owning an entity that engages in the practice of medicine by restricting them from hiring appropriately licensed physicians. The doctrine was purportedly established by the AMA to protect the public as well as protecting the medical profession. The premise behind the doctrine was to assure that only licensed professionals delivered medical care and that non-licensed physicians or entities should not have any influences on the treatment of patients.
The majority of states follow the corporate practice of medicine doctrine. Many states do not have any statutory provisions that prohibit the corporate practice of medicine, however, the prohibition can be found in case law or through opinions of state attorneys general or state licensing boards.
Several states have somewhat creative means to allow easier integration of a chiropractic practice with a medical doctor. For example, Kansas law permits chiropractors to have joint ownership in a professional corporation with professionals such as medical doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners. Arizona permits joint ownership between chiropractors and medical doctors as well as allowing acupuncturists to team up with medical doctors.
A minority of states permit direct employment of medical doctors. Florida is among the states that allow corporate practice of medicine as long as other statutory requirements are met.
I guess the moral of the story is this: corporate practice of medicine laws are state specific and carry many complexities that may be overlooked by a simple reading of a statute or regulation. It is critical, therefore, to consult with your state licensing board along with the state medical board to get an accurate description of corporate practice of medicine laws in your state. It is also beneficial to consult with an experienced attorney to provide guidance in the sometimes complex area of the law.
Mr. Meyer is an attorney with over 20 years experience in health care law focusing on regulatory and transactional matters. His clients include physicians, medical equipment companies, surgery centers and diagnostic centers. Mr. Meyer works with chiropractors and other similar professionals throughout the country in integrating their practices. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.