Corporate practice of medicine
Ethics and Professionalism
Adopted: Mar 2016
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It is the position of the Board that, except as discussed below, businesses practicing medicine in North Carolina must be owned in their entirety by persons holding active North Carolina licenses. The owners of a business engaged in the practice of medicine must be licensees of this Board or one of the combinations permitted in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 55B-14.
Licensees of the Board providing medical services on behalf of businesses engaged in the corporate practice of medicine may be subject to disciplinary action by the Board. Whether a licensee of the Board is an employee or independent contractor is not determinative of whether a physician is aiding and abetting the corporate practice of medicine. In addition, the Board may seek injunctive relief against lay owners of businesses engaged in the corporate practice of medicine.
The Board does recognize certain exceptions to the corporate practice of medicine, including hospitals and health maintenance
organizations. Such exceptions are premised on the notion that these entities are statutory creations intended for the public welfare and regulated by the government, thus ameliorating the inherent conflict between profit-making and good medical care. Under a similar rationale, public health clinics and charitable nonprofits are also considered exceptions to the prohibition on the corporate practice of medicine.
As mentioned above, the Board recognizes an exception to the prohibition on the corporate practice of medicine for non-profit hospitals and in turn medical practices that are owned by such hospitals. The policy underlying this exception is that non-profit hospitals are charged with the same mission as the Board in protecting the well-being of the citizens of North Carolina. In keeping with this policy, it is the Board’s expectation that hospital-owned practices will recognize the ethical obligations that their physician employees have to their patients and allow them to discharge such obligations. For example, it is the position of the Board that physicians who depart such practices for reasons other than safety concerns be permitted to provide appropriate notice to their patients, ensure continuity of care, and allow patient selection.