Fears regarding a free hospital answering service

March 21, 2008

The hospital where I have privileges provides a free answering service. If a patient or physician needs to speak to me after hours, he calls the hospital, and the operator there forwards the call to my cell phone or pager. Am I violating antikickback laws by accepting this service?

The hospital where I have privileges provides a free answering service. If a patient or physician needs to speak to me after hours, he calls the hospital, and the operator there forwards the call to my cell phone or pager. Am I violating antikickback laws by accepting this service?

It depends. Such a benefit-when offered free or for a low fee-must meet certain criteria to comply with Stark rules.

Under Stark, your answering service must be reasonably related to the provision of-or designed to facilitate-medical services at the hospital. It can be used only on the hospital campus or to access information on patients and personnel who are there, and during periods when the medical staff members are making rounds or engaged in activities that benefit the hospital and its patients.