Temporary Practice Coverage

Temporary Practice Coverage

Regardless of work ethic, every doctor needs time away from the office. Unfortunately, physicians in small practices find real vacations - let alone sick days - are out of the question, because no one is available to cover patient care.

To this end, medical staffing agencies have become a godsend to the private medical community. Specializing in locum tenens placements - or temporary practice coverage - agencies such as Locum Tenens USA and Onyx M.D. screen and provide medical professionals qualified to work in many disciplines.

While staffing companies virtually walk clients through the contract process, certain measures can make the experience more successful for both the hiring doctor and the substitute. The following tips will help:

  • Arrange coverage at least two to three months prior to a planned absence.
  • Thoroughly review the substituting physician's qualifications and experience, as well as all employment contracts, before signing the dotted line.
  • Inform patients of the temporary reassignment of their care, providing the physician's name and background information.
  • If money is an issue, limit hiring and staffing costs by cutting back office hours during planned absences.
  • Make sure the substitute physician has all pertinent contact information, including phone numbers for weekend coverage staff, specialists for referrals, local hospital emergency departments and patients.
  • Leave detailed instructions on coding policies.
  • Keep the fill-in doctor busy. This is a good time for the appointment nurse to schedule routine exams and screening tests.
  • Make up a checklist for the temporary physician. Items might include lab protocols, prescription policies, patient communication, etc.
  • Provide review forms for studies, consults and labs, and require initials or a signature.
  • Provide patient follow-up forms to be completed by the subbing doctor. This measure ensures continuity of care and reduces the likelihood of errors.