Hello, everybody. My name is Eric Hoffman, and I am back again with the five-minute crisis response for chiropractors. Today we’re going to be reviewing how to stay compliant as an associate doctor in a chiropractic practice. So, the intention of today’s topic and episode is that we’ve been getting a few calls from those of you who happen to be associates, whether you’re an employee or an independent contractor in an office, that you’ve either noticed things that may not be going the way you’d hope for them to go, or you may believe that the office you’re working at should be closed for various reasons, and as a result we want to go through some of those scenarios with you and make sure you are prepared and you are taken care of in this pandemic.
So, first things first, what do you do if you feel like the owner of the clinic you’re working at is not following the proper guidelines, whether they’re from the CDC, from OSHA, from the state health department, whatever it may be, what do you do, and what are your rights, so to speak? So, what you do is really first and foremost, you have a conversation, because communicating about it is the most important thing so you can both come to the same conclusion, or at least agree to disagree, and walk through it together, because that is a crucial point to solve any problem.
So talk it through with the owner, voice your concerns or your opinions, but make sure you’re reading up on the guidelines so you can speak intelligently and know what your state is allowing for, and talk it through and see if you can come to a resolution. If not, you obviously have the right to exercise your opinion, and or just not work if you feel you are either unsafe or you are putting your patients that you’re seeing at risk. So that is your right, and of course you shouldn’t work unless and until you feel safe to be there and support your patients, so that’s number one. Number two is…
A question we get often is, “What if I do continue to work because my boss is demanding that I do, but I know that they’re not following the right protocols, they’re not cleaning in the right way, they’re not spreading patients out, everybody’s close together, things of that nature that it’s pretty clear at this point what the CDC guidelines are?” And an example I often give to you all when you ask that type of question is if you think about something like an insurance fraud allegation, they come in a number of ways, but historically if an insurance company or the FBI, or whoever it may be investigating, is accusing an office of insurance fraud, let’s just say that there’s 10 doctors in that office, but one doctor owns it and there’s a staff that bills the treatments to the insurance company.
So if the entire staff is named in the insurance fraud investigation, because they don’t know what’s actually going on until they investigate, does that mean everybody in the office is liable? Not necessarily, but obviously there’s caveats to everything, the same type of idea is true here. If you are a knowing party, or if you know you’re doing something inappropriate, illegal or otherwise, you could be held liable of course, because you know that it’s not the right thing to do. So based on that, using that as a guide, again you should do what you feel is the most important for you, your license, your health, and the health of those around you. That’s the number one goal during this time, and it’s the most important thing to remember.
So that’s one thing, but also another is to try and consider it in the reverse, from the owner’s perspective, because I talk to owners all the time about this exact same thing, and in the reverse we have owners saying, “Hey, my associates aren’t willing to come in to practice,” or “My associate or my employee is telling me that I should close the office when I don’t believe that should be the case.”
And again, on the reverse side, there’s a lack of effective communication, there’s a lack of understanding, and that’s where these things tend to break down, so what I advise the owners in the reverse is again to have the conversation with the associate or the employee to share their point of view and why they believe that the office either should remain open, or that your cleaning protocol is a certain way, or whatever it may be. And so with that, they are tasked to talk to these people and work it through, and also know that based on certain OSHA guidelines that an employee has the right to feel safe, and if they don’t feel safe, then you should allow them to remain home until this blows over.
So there are other things to go about it in that way, but another option that an owner can take, or even an associate, is to call the department of health in your state and review it with them, and see what their point of view is based on the situation, and what they recommend as a healthcare provider to perform services in the state. And if they give you a directive or a piece of advice or a recommendation, if you follow that, that of course reduces your liability because the state’s giving you that advice, but also it helps get a third party perspective so that the employer or the employee, or both, can at least come to perhaps a better agreement on how things should go moving forward.
That’s going to do it for today, just wanted to review this topic because we’ve been getting a lot of calls on it, and we thought it might be important for you all to consider and remember. So, I believe there will be again a banner on the bottom asking you to text “COVID” to a certain number to get some information and resources that we’re putting out. If you take a look at the last episode we did, we reviewed a lot of those resources, so take a look again, we keep updating. And as always, we will be doing these Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, so we will be back this Friday, and we will take it from there. Make sure you ask the questions that you have in the comments, and we will try to review those as best we can, and please stay safe, stay healthy, and we’ll see you soon. Thank you. (Silence).
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