1. There is a doctor on-staff, doing rounds at Virginia Nursing Homes, M-F, 9am – 5pm?

2. You will get better care, and see the doctor more often, if you let the medical director of a nursing home serve as your attending physician?

3. You have to let the doctor on staff at the nursing home serve as your attending physician?

4. The nursing home doctor can refuse to treat you?

False, False, False, False.

Medical Directors at Virginia Nursing Homes have to be “available” for consult – but do not have to be on-site. Mostly their job is to certify to Medicare / Medicaid that patients need continued care, and to do this every 30 days or as required by law.

They also prescribe medications, etc… But they are not there all day, everyday. Most have full time practices elsewhere, or, will split their time between many nursing homes.

So, what are the Medical Directors supposed to do?

Under Virginia law, they are required to:

1. Advising the administrator and the director of nursing on medical issues, including the criteria for residents to be admitted, transferred or discharged from the nursing facility;

2. Advising on the development and execution of policies and procedures that have a direct effect upon the quality of medical and nursing care delivered to residents;

3. Acting as liaison and consulting with the administrator and the attending physician on matters regarding medical and nursing care policies and procedures of the nursing facility;

4. Advising and providing consultation to the nursing facility staff regarding communicable diseases, infection control and isolation procedures, and serving as liaison with local health officials;

5. Providing temporary physician services when the admitting physician is not the attending physician, in order to assure that the resident has temporary medical orders;

6. Providing physician services in case of emergency in the event that the resident’s attending physician cannot be reached; and

7. Advising on the development and execution of an employee health program, which shall include provisions for determining that employees are free of communicable diseases according to current acceptable standards of practice.

Wow. I bet many Medical Directors would be surprised that their role is supposed to be that expansive.

So, when your loved one has a choice to use their MD or their own – think long and hard about it. Perhaps have 2 doctors is better than one if their original attending physician is willing to help.

Lauren Ellerman
Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at