What does it mean to be a medical director?

Question: I was recently contacted by a long-term care facility and was asked to serve as the facility’s medical director. What exactly does it mean to be a “medical director”?

Answer: From a legal and liability perspective, a “medical director” is a physician who serves in an administrative capacity as head of an organized medical staff and whose duties include training and supervision of medical staff (both physician and non-physician); drafting and implementing appropriate policies and procedures; and/or assuring the facility’s compliance with federal, state, and local laws. Medical director services do not include employment related services.

The specific duties you would be assigned will be spelled out in your employment contract with the facility. We encourage you to read that contract closely and refer questions about duties to the facility. We also strongly advise you to consult with an attorney before entering into any contract.

Please be aware that many medical liability policies do not cover you for incidents related to your actions as a medical director. Some facilities provide medical director liability coverage as part of the employment contract. In other cases, medical director coverage must be purchased separately or added to your existing policy. It is very important that you ask about this coverage.

If you are a TMLT policyholder, TMLT offers medical liability coverage for medical directors at a cost of $250 per policy period. Learn more.

About the Author

Laura Hale Brockway is the Vice President of Marketing at TMLT. She can be reached at laura-brockway@tmlt.org.

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