BME Updates Self/Family Prescribing Policy

June 20, 2017

The Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners (BME) recently updated its policy on prescribing to oneself and one’s family. The previous policy had been in place for 20 years and the new policy takes a more streamlined approach to address these prescribing scenarios. TMA members should be aware of these changes as they are now in effect.

The definition of “immediate family” includes one “whom a physician's personal or emotional involvement may render that physician unable to exercise detached professional judgment in reaching diagnostic or therapeutic decisions.” Based on TMA’s knowledge of previous disciplinary actions, this can include a long-term dating or live-in relationship.

With respect to prescribing to oneself, a physician should not prescribe or treat him/herself except in an emergency. Prescribing, providing or administering any scheduled drug to oneself is prohibited.

As to prescribing to an immediate family member, treatment should be reserved only for minor, self-limited illnesses or emergency situations. No scheduled drugs should be dispensed or prescribed except in emergency situations.

The policy does not specifically say so, but TMA believes that the intent of the policy is to provide interpretive guidance to physicians as to conduct that
could violate the Board’s disciplinary statutes and regulations regarding prescribing. Be cognizant of the fact that the Board could bring disciplinary action against a licensee who violates the policy (and has done so in the past).

The Tennessee Board of Osteopathic Examination does not have policy addressing these prescribing situations. Information about the BME’s updated policy is provided in
TMA’s member-only online Law Guide. Information is available under the topic “Prescriptions” starting on page 2. Members may also contact the TMA legal department directly with questions about the policy at 800.659.1862 or