By Anthony J. Cox, Esq.
The trend toward the corporate practice of medicine and dentistry has become impossible to ignore, as more and more health care and dental professionals are deciding to render services through business entities. But while many professionals are familiar with the concept of “corporate practice,” not all are familiar with the regulatory regime around it.
In 2012, the State Medical Board of Ohio provided a definitive statement on the corporate practice of medicine, providing that per the Ohio Revised Code, an Ohio licensed doctor of medicine and surgery, osteopathic medicine and surgery, or podiatric medicine and surgery may provide medical services through a corporation, a limited liability company, or another business entity in Ohio.
Generally, doctors in these specialties may also be employees, rather than owners, of the business entity through which services are rendered, and there is no requirement that the owners of the business be licensed physicians. There are qualifications to this rule, however: professional services rendered through a professional association must be provided by an officer, director, or employee of the association who are themselves licensed to practice such services. Importantly, physicians must exercise independent professional judgment based on the best interest of the patient and within the applicable standards of care. The corporation may not control the professional clinical judgment of the doctor.
Dentists may similarly engage in corporate practice. However, the name of the corporate dental practice must include that dentist’s name – for example, “John Doe, D.D.S., Inc.” Recent developments in dentistry have highlighted the use of dental management companies as an alternative to the dentist-owned practice. In those circumstances, the management company may be owned by a non-dentist, but cannot make or influence clinical decisions with respect to patient care or share in the dental fees for professional services rendered.
Another notable exception, particularly relevant in light of the ongoing opioid addiction crisis, specifies that pain management clinics (as defined in the Ohio Revised Code) must be owned by one or more doctors of medicine and surgery or osteopathic medicine and surgery licensed under Chapter 4731.