CEO 84-49 -- June 7, 1984
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH UNIT EMPLOYEE WORKING PRIVATELY FOR PHYSICIAN UNDER CONTRACT WITH D.H.R.S.
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
No prohibited conflict of interest would be created were an advanced registered nurse practitioner with a county public health unit to work part-time as a nurse for a physician who has contracted with D.H.R.S. to provide obstetrical care for indigent women admitted to the health unit's clinic. The employee played no role in the contracting process between the Department and the physician, and would not be in a position to refer patients to the physician. CEO's 83-85 and 84-20 are referenced.
Would a prohibited conflict of interest be created were you, an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner with a county public health unit, to work part-time as a nurse for a physician who has contracted with the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services to provide obstetrical care for indigent women admitted to the health unit's clinic?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you are employed by the Sarasota County Public Health Unit as an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner, responsible for maternity and family planning nursing services. You question whether you may work part-time as a nurse practitioner for a physician who has contracted with the local District of the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services to provide pre-natal, delivery, and post-partum care for those indigent women who are admitted to the Health Unit's O.B. clinic. The physician is one of fifteen who have contracted with the Department to provide this type of care.
We are of the opinion that your question is answered by the rationale of previous opinions CEO 83-85 and CEO 84-20. As was the situation in those opinions, you have advised that you have played no role in the contracting process between the Department and the physicians in this program. Although you apparently work with this physician as an employee of the Public Health Unit, it does not appear that your private employment would interfere with the full and faithful discharge of your responsibilities to the Public Health Unit and its clients. You are not in a position to refer patients to the physician, as you have advised that he does not accept Medicare or welfare patients as part of his private practice. The Health Unit's services are available only to patients who are on county welfare or Medicaid. Since eligibility for these programs is not determined by the Health Unit, but rather by other agencies, you are not in a position to influence eligibility determinations in any manner which might benefit the physician. In addition, the compensation received by the physician is not based upon the number of patients he sees through the Health Unit.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest would be created were you to work as a nurse practitioner part-time for a physician who has contracted to provide care for women who are admitted to the Health Unit's clinic.