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Free-Standing Ambulatory Care Centers

Free-standing ambulatory care centers occupy a curious legal position. When a physician at one of these centers evaluates a patient, a physician-patient relationship is formed. In this sense, these centers are no different from a private medical office. The difficulty arises because these centers operate on the premise that the physician-patient relationship is terminated with the patient encounter. They do not accept the ongoing duty to care for the patient. There has been litigation on this point, but this limitation on future obligations may be hard to defend.


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