Patient Referral Services

Have you ever received a marketing email like the one below in your inbox?

We can send 20 new patients your way each month, and you pay only when they show up. There are no monthly retainers, no initial set-up fees, and no bait-and-switch tactics. Possibly interested? Reply with “yes” and I’ll get back to you on how this can help your practice.

No doubt such advertisements may seem enticing, but are they legal for New York State chiropractors?

Short answer: No, such arrangements are not legal in New York.

New York Public Health Laws, Article 45, § 4501 - Medical referral service businesses prohibited.  states the following:

1. No person, firm, partnership, association or corporation, or agent or employee thereof, shall engage in for profit any business or service which in whole or in part includes the referral or recommendation of persons to a physician, dentist, hospital, health related facility, or dispensary for any form of medical or dental care or treatment of any ailment or physical condition. The imposition of a fee or charge for any such referral or recommendation shall create a presumption that the business or service is engaged in for profit.

Additionally, New York State healthcare providers are prohibited from entering into agreements to accept referrals from for-profit companies who provide such services.

Further, the NYSED Rule of the Board of Regents, § 29.b1 – General provisions state:

b.    Unprofessional conduct in the practice of any profession licensed, certified or registered pursuant to title VIII of the Education Law…, shall include: (3) directly or indirectly offering, giving, soliciting, or receiving or agreeing to receive, any fee or other consideration to or from a third party for the referral of a patient or client or in connection with the performance of professional services; (4) permitting any person to share in the fees for professional services...

Finally, the American Medical Association Code of Ethics, chapter 11.3.4 specifically warns against this type of referral arrangement, stating “Payment by or to a physician or health care institution solely for referral of a patient is fee splitting and is unethical.”

For these reasons, solicitations for referral services such as those noted in the marketing email above should not be considered for Chiropractic practices in New York.  Members are encouraged to consult qualified legal counsel when considering any contracts related to their practice of Chiropractic in New York. 

Did you know? NYSCA members receive a monthly 60-min consultation/information inquiry free of charge with a respected legal firm regarding No-Fault, Workers Comp and Commercial Collections, and general law and general contract questions. Click here to learn more!

No Attorney-Client Relationship: The NYSCA cannot provide legal advice. Communication of information by, in, or through this message and your receipt or use of it is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney.  If the questioner has one or more legal questions that require specific legal advice, the NYSCA and sender strongly encourage the questioner to retain competent legal counsel, well-informed and knowledgeable about the areas of law and practice in which the inquirer has an interest.

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