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Featured Legal News: Medical Licensing boards seeking to “make an example” out of prescribing to self/family

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Medical Licensing boards seeking to “make an example” out of prescribing to self/family
The TMA legal department received contacts from three members during the month of April regarding investigations or formal charges brought against them by the medical licensing boards around the physicians self-prescribing or prescribing for family members. One member was reportedly told that the licensing board’s medical consultant “wanted to make an example” out of the prescriber. Both the MD and DO licensing boards have formal policies addressing self and family member prescribing and the BME has adopted the AMA Code of Ethics (Op. 1.2.1). The technical “gotcha” violation is failure to keep medical records on family member patients. 

While the boards’ policies as written seem to allow treatment of immediate family members only in “minor, self-limited, short-duration illnesses, or emergency situations,” in some instances the boards seem to hold physicians to strict liability even if the family member prescriptions were for non-controlled substances for minor short-term type conditions. Click here to access the policy for medical doctors and click here for the policy for osteopathic physicians. At this time, the TMA legal department cautions physicians NOT to prescribe medications to immediate family members for minor, self-limited, short-duration illnesses; only for emergencies, and to keep a medical record on the encounter.

New Laws from the 2024 General Assembly
Some of the laws enacted by the 2024 General Assembly are already effective or will be effective on July 1st and may be of special interest to physicians since they could require action or impose a duty to report.  You may access a summary of these laws by clicking here.  TMA’s next All Member Virtual meeting will feature a legislative wrap-up of the 2024 session presented by the government affairs team. To register for this virtual meeting, click here. Member login required to register. 

CME reminder  
Physicians renewing their Tennessee medical license must complete 40 hours of CME in the 24 months before the month of license renewal.  At least two of the total hours must cover instruction in controlled substance prescribing and the treatment guidelines developed by the Department of Health on opioids, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and carisoprodol, and may include such other topics as medicine addiction, risk management tools, and other topics. TMA offers a proprietary, two-hour accredited proper prescribing course that meets all BME requirements for physicians and it is available at Contact the TMA legal department at with any questions regarding CME compliance.

Transfer Controlled Substance Prescription
There are occasions when a pharmacy is unable or unwilling to fill a controlled substance prescription for a patient.  A new federal law allows a one-time transfer of a controlled substance prescription to another pharmacy designated by the patient.  TMA has created a resource explaining this one-time transfer that you can share and it may prevent a patient from calling for another prescription.  You may print this resource out and give it to a patient or let the patient take a picture of it.  Download this resource at  

Employment Contract Checklist 
This checklist can help physicians avoid common pitfalls when negotiating an employment contract. Go to to access. Member login required. Contact with any questions.

X-Ray Operator in a Physician’s Office
The employing physician is responsible for the actions of an x-ray operator in his/her office and could be subject to discipline by the licensing board. Recently a physician was assessed a $2400 civil penalty for a tech’s 48 months of unlicensed practice and a report was made to the National Practitioner Databank. Make sure your practice compliance plan includes a routine check of the license status of all employees required to be licensed by the state.You may check the status of a Tennessee license at See TMA’s Law Guide, X-Ray Operators, for all of the requirements regarding the provision of x-ray services in a physician’s office.




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