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Reminders Regarding Delegation

LynBeggsObservations from the Legal Trenches

By Lyn E. Beggs. PLLC
During the last biennial license renewal period for physicians licensed by the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners, I discussed the frequent delegation of the completion of renewal applications to third parties, such as an office manager and the potential issues related to such delegation. As physicians are once again in the middle of a biennial renewal period, the time seems right for a quick reminder about delegation.

Delegation of tasks is often necessary for busy physicians to accomplish the myriad of demands placed upon them. This often includes delegating administrative tasks such as billing, ordering of both medical supplies, completion of applications and/or contracting matters. Patient care tasks are also often delegated (to the extent legally allowed) to others such as medical assistants. While delegation of tasks is certainly acceptable, and necessary, it is important to remember that ultimately the practitioner is responsible for those tasks that are delegated and can bear the consequences if something goes awry.

Below are a few examples of tasks that are often delegated and the issues practitioners should keep in mind.

Delegation of billing to an in-house administrative staff member:
How has this individual been trained? Do they understand how to properly bill both private insurance and well as Medicare and Medicaid? How is this person staying current with potential changes to regulations that could impact billing?

Delegation of ordering, receiving and storing prescription drugs and/or controlled substances at a practice location:
Does the practitioner verify what has been ordered and received? Are drugs/controlled substances being stored in the legally prescribed manner and is access to drugs/controlled substances limited to the appropriate individuals as required by law? Are legally required records being kept appropriately?

Delegation of training (such as HIPAA training):
Is the individual training staff members qualified to do so? Is the practitioner aware of the extent of the training or the information provided? Is legally required training taking place in the time frame required?

While practitioners regularly delegate tasks, delegation should not equate to abdicating all knowledge and responsibility of what occurs after delegation has been made as the potential risks to a practitioner can be substantial.

Ms. Beggs, owner of the Law Offices of Lyn E. Beggs, PLLC, focuses her practice primarily on administrative and professional licensing board issues in addition to representing healthcare providers on a variety of issues. Ms. Beggs may be reached at 775-432-1918 or at lyn@lbeggslaw.com

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