Army Doctor Off Duty EmploymentFebruary 19, 2023
Army Doctor Off Duty Employment (ODE) is governed by MEDCOM Regulation No. 600-3. This regulation applies to all active duty personnel and DoD civilian employee healthcare practitioners assigned to MEDCOM and subordinate units. Physicians, dentists, nurses (except nurses assistants), physical therapists, podiatrists, optometrists, clinical dieticians, social workers, clinical pharmacologists, clinical psychologists, occupational therapists, audiologists, speech pathologists, physicians assistants, chiropractors, dental hygienists, and anyone else providing direct patient care as defined by DoD 6025.13-R, paragraph DL 1.1.16 and paragraph DL 1.1.17, are covered under this regulation.
The Army Doctor Off Duty Employment regulation (MEDCOM Regulation No. 600-3) prohibits anyone listed above "...from engaging in off-duty employment (including teaching, lecturing, writing, consulting, and temporary duty) without their commander's prior approval." MEDCOM Regulation No. 600-3 requires the use of appendix B for requests for medical off-duty employment and the use of appendix C for requests for non-medical off-duty employment. Such requests should be routed through the provider's chain of command to the commander. A decision must be reached by the Commander within 10 working days of the application being submitted.
Yearly, Commanders are required to get a statement from all personnel under their command that states their current off-duty employment status. Furthermore, MEDCOM Regulation No. 600-3 requires personnel to sign a statement acknowledging the Army Doctor Off Duty Employment policy during in-processing; appendix D of MEDCOM Regulation No. 600-3 provides the proper format for such a statement.
Furthermore, MEDCOM Regulation No. 600-3 puts the following limitations on Army Doctor Off Duty Employment:
- No more than 16 hours of off-duty employment a week should be conducted; exceptions need to be in writing from the Commander
- There needs to be 6-hours of rest in between off-duty employment and government duties
- If off-duty employment is not conducted on leave, then it needs to be performed within 2-hours of the Servicemember's duty location, using land transportation
- No TDY or pass can be granted if the primary purpose is to conduct off-duty employment
- A monthly report, due on the 10th of each month, must be submitted listing the number of hours of off-duty employment worked for the previous month. Appendix E of MEDCOM Regulation No. 600-3 provides the proper format.
- The provider cannot use Federal Government/Military medical equipment or supplies during their off-duty employment
- The provider cannot be authorized as a Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS) or Tricare providers during off-duty employment
- The provider cannot assume responsibility for the medical or dental care of any patient on a continuing basis nor engage in private (solo) practice
- The civilian employer in question must provide written certification that he/she accept regulatory limitations placed on the AMEDD employee. Furthermore, the employer must agree that they will not seek reimbursement from CHAMPUS, TRICARE, Medicare, or Medicaid for treatment of DoD beneficiaries, or military supplement medical care funds for services provided by AMEDD personnel. They also must agree to not seek direct payment for these services from the patient. Appendix F of MEDCOM Regulation No. 600-3 provides the proper format.
- The provider cannot receive any compensation for services rendered pursuant to their official duties (does not apply to dental services provided to CONUS enrollees of the TRICARE family member dental plan)
- Providers can engage in medical consultation practice when authorized by the Commander
- Providers cannot provide expert opinion or testimony, regardless of compensation, in support of private litigation
- Providers can volunteer services for the benefit of institutionalized persons and recognized nonprofit charitable organizations; however, Commanders still need to approve this
- Medical, nursing, dental, and veterinary personnel prescribing drugs in off-duty employment are subject to requirements of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970.
- Providers performing off-duty employment are responsible for their own malpractice insurance and the Army accepts no responsibility for their actions while engaged in off-duty employment
- Providers need to submit individual requests for each physical location that off-duty employment will be performed at (if more than one location)
- Any negotiated union agreements take precedence over MEDCOM Regulation No. 600-3
Potential violations of MEDCOM Regulation No. 600-3 are typically investigated through the AR 15-6 Investigation process. Substantiated violations of MEDCOM Regulation No. 600-3 can be punished with punitive action, such as an Article 15 or a Court-Martial. Furthermore, violations can result in administrative action such as a GOMOR, Referred OER, letter of concern, and even administrative elimination through the board of inquiry process. Essentially, any violations can result in early separation from the Army or action that can prevent future promotions. It is therefore imperative that anyone suspected of an Army Doctor Off Duty Employment violation, or any violation of MEDCOM Regulation No. 600-3, should contact an experienced military lawyer immediately.
Legal Assistance and Trial Defense Services (TDS) may be available to assist; however, they are fairly inexperienced and don't always have the time to dedicate to these types of cases. Furthermore, they are most likely not familiar with MEDCOM Regulation No. 600-3. Civilian Attorneys can be hired to assist.
This article was written by Attorney Matthew Barry.