When considering employment with a hospital, there are a number of important factors to consider regarding physicians employment contract negotiations. In addition to agreements about compensation, termination, and restrictive covenants, doctors must also know if they will have access to patient medical records should they terminate this potential contract and move to any other types of practice.
Health law attorneys point out that it is essential to understand ahead of time what restrictions may be in place before signing an agreement. Physicians employment agreement evaluations are an essential part of any employment process.
Medical Records Access When Terminating
Whenever a doctor ends their employment with a hospital, it is essential to know ahead of time if they will be able to access the medical records of their patients. Many states have laws that require hospitals to notify patients when their doctor will be leaving the hospital, although not all do. Some hospitals state their policy about medical record access ahead of time during physicians employment contract negotiations; again, not all do this. Texas, for example, has specific rules regarding maintenance, retention, ownership and destruction of medical records.
All doctors should discuss with health law attorneys about hospital medical records prior to signing an employment agreement if a hospital does not voluntarily reveal such information.
Who Owns Patient Medical Records?
The answer to who owns patient medical records depends on established state laws about hospital medical records. Certain states stipulate that the treating physician owns their patient's medical records, meaning that the hospital is merely a custodian of such records when they are integrated into the hospital’s electronic records system.
A few states indicate that the hospital owns any records produced at that facility and have varying policies on records brought into the organization. Many states do not have laws designating ownership at all, making physicians employment agreement evaluations an important consideration to determine what happens when a doctor leaves a hospital.
According to Texas business law, the ownership of medical records goes to the employer unless prior agreements are otherwise made. This could mean that multiple parties own different parts of the medical record based on records brought into the system and those generated within the hospital system.
Access to Patient Medical Records
Regardless of the state, health law attorneys suggest that it is vital for doctors to clarify and negotiate this point to ensure they will have access to their own patient records when their employment at a hospital ends.
Some organizations may maintain copies of all records, both those brought in and those generated in the hospital, while providing copies to treating physicians. Other hospitals may have differing views on what a terminating doctor is entitled to access.
All patients are legally entitled to copies of their medical records, so physicians may obtain records that way. Of course, how to integrate records into a new electronic records system may then become an issue.
The topic of medical record ownership and access after leaving a hospital system can be a complex one for many doctors. To avoid complications or legal disputes, health law attorneys stress the importance of physicians employment agreement evaluations to ensure doctors retain access to patient medical records. With the right pre-planning, including effective physicians employment contract negotiations, medical record ownership questions can be addressed early and access problems avoided later on!
The Stevenson Law Firm, PC
6302 W. Broadway, Suite 120
Pearland, TX 77581
Phone: (832) 481-4548