Locum Tenens Basics
Locum tenens is a Latin phrase that means, “to hold the place of.” In medicine, locum tenens are contracted physicians who substitute for a physician who has left the practice, or who is absent or otherwise unavailable. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) allows payment to the regular physician for services provided during his or her absence, and that are billed under his or her name and National Provider Identifier (NPI) number with modifier Q6 Services furnished by a locum tenens physician.
The locum tenens physician does not have to enroll in the Medicare program to see patients; he or she must have a NPI number and possess an unrestricted license in the state in which he or she is practicing. The locum is not required to be of the same specialty as the regular physician, and should not be a regularly scheduled provider with the practice (e.g., working one day a month would not meet the locum tenens provision). The locum cannot be used to cover expansion or growth in a practice; he or she must cover a physician who is absent.