The American College of Surgeons (ACS) issued a statement on January 1, 2018 relating to the use of locum surgeons in America’s hospitals. ACS officials expect the statement will act as guidance for hospitals, staffing agencies and locums, guidance that protects all parties while also ensuring positive outcomes for patients.
The guidance by no means supersedes federal or state law. In fact, there is no enforcement action tied to the guidance. It acts as nothing more than an official position paper, as it were, outlining what the ACS believes to be the most important aspects of the hospital-locum relationship. Below is everything you need to know, whether you are a locum surgeon, agency recruiter, or healthcare manager.
Healthcare Facilities and Groups
Healthcare facilities and surgical groups electing to bring in locum tenens surgeons should have specific procedures and processes in place, according to the ACS. At the top of the list are established procedures for handing off post-surgical patients to the doctors and groups providing the subsequent follow-up care. These procedures should focus on care continuity above all else.
Next, the ACS advocates for a complete onboarding process for locum tenens surgeons. Onboarding is not something typically thought of in the locum industry, but doctors need to be intimately familiar with a given facility before they begin offering surgeries. This includes familiarization with, the OR and office staff, electronic health record systems, radiology and lab systems, etc.
Healthcare facilities and groups have every right to expect that staffing agencies will always seek to find properly qualified and credentialed surgeons to fill locum positions. The ACS also encourages membership in its organization. Staffing agencies should maintain a means of measuring the quality and performance of its locums to ensure the quality of those surgeons they choose to make available to clients.
Finally, the ACS says that a locum surgeon’s contract should include performance and quality metrics spelled out in detail. A means for evaluating performance during the contract period, and making improvements where necessary, should also be included in contract language.
Locum Tenens Surgeons
At the top of the list of guidelines for the surgeons themselves is the need for locums to have appropriate licenses for those states in which they wish to work. This should be obvious. The ACS says locum surgeons should be board certified or board eligible. They should be members in good standing with the ABS or ABMS and should regularly participate in continuing education opportunities.
Locum tenens surgeons should complete any credentialing process required of prospective hospitals or groups. The surgeon should maintain a current curriculum vitae that includes all surgical experience. It should be furnished upon the request of any prospective employer.
A Good Starting Point
As mentioned at the start of this post, the ACS guidance does not include any valid means of enforcement. Yet it is a good starting point for hospitals, staffing agencies, and locum tenens surgeons. Any or all of the parties can certainly add to the guidance in order to satisfy their own needs. At the end of the day, the guidance is not intended to restrict the use of locum surgeons; it is intended to protect everyone involved.
There is a lot more to the guidance than what has been described in this article. If you would like to read it in full, you can find the full text on the American College of Surgeons website. The guidance is important enough that those involved in locum surgery should probably familiarize themselves with it.