BME Rule Defines Addiction Specialist Qualifications

February 27, 2017

The Board of Medical Examiners has published a final rule defining addiction specialist, effective May 1, 2017.

The General Assembly passed the Addiction Treatment Act in 2015. The act limited the prescribing of buprenorphine, with or without naloxone, to a physician with a DEA “x” number and only in circumstances in which the FDA has approved such use of the drug. It also required the following for the treatment of opioid dependence:

  • Any physician treating a patient for opioid dependence with more than 16 mg of buprenorphine per day for 30 consecutive days must document the reason for the higher dosage in the patient’s medical record.

  • If a physician treats a patient for opioid dependence with more than 20 mg of buprenorphine per day for 30 consecutive days, the physician must consult with an addiction specialist or refer the patient to an addiction specialist for management of the treatment plan if the treating physician is not an addiction specialist. The licensing boards for physicians (MD and DO) were tasked with promulgating rules to define addiction specialist. 

The Board of Medical Examiners has published a final rule defining addiction specialist, which is effective May 1, 2017. The definition creates a new section (15) under Rule 0880-02-.14 (Specially Regulated Areas and Aspects of Medical Practice). The definition is reprinted below:

(15) For purposes of T.C.A. § 53-11-311 regarding use of buprenorphine products and in order to qualify as an "addiction specialist", a physician must meet one of the following definitions:

(a) A physician licensed by the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners or the Tennessee Board of Osteopathic Examination who is certified by the American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM), or is certified in addiction medicine by the American Osteopathic Association or is subspecialty certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) in addiction psychiatry or has completed the residency and fellowship requirements for same and is in the board certification process; or

(b) A physician licensed by the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners or the Tennessee Board of Osteopathic Examination who has a primary ABMS (American Board of Medical Specialties) or AOA (American Osteopathic Association) board certification and at least three (3) years of fulltime equivalent experience treating patients with a primary substance abuse disorder while the physician is employed by or practicing in a facility that is licensed by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services or in a facility of equivalent licensure in another state. At least six (6) months full-time equivalent of that experience must be gained while caring for patients who are receiving care in licensed Alcohol and Drug Residential Detoxification Treatment facilities, as defined in 0940-05-44-.01 or Alcohol and Drug Residential Rehabilitation Treatment facilities, as defined in 0940-05-45-.01, or their equivalent in other states.