Medical Director Roles and Responsibilities

December 4, 2023 | Aging Services Risk Management


​​All long-term care facilities and hospice provider organizations must designate a licensed physician to serve as medical director who coordinates medical care and implements resident-care policies, as per Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Conditions of Participation. (1,2) Since the requirement originated in the 1970s, a host of new challenges has arisen for postacute and long-term care (PALTC) and other aging services organizations. Such challenges include staffing shortages, increased medical complexity of residents, facility closures, and evolving regulations, among others. As a result, the roles and responsibilities of medical directors have evolved and expanded over time.

Interpretive guidelines set forth by CMS are delineated in![](/_layouts/images/icpdf.png)Appendix PP of the State Operations Manual under GUIDANCE §483.70(h), which charges facilities with outlining—through policy or job description—how the medical director will implement resident care policies and coordinate medical care and services to ensure residents attain or maintain their highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being. While CMS does not require specific certification beyond being a licensed physician, medical directors must be knowledgeable about current professional standards of practice regarding long-term care residents, as well as how to coordinate and oversee other practitioners. (3)

Medical directors have roles and responsibilities in areas such as physician leadership, administrative...

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