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What you need to know about the 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.

Cybersecurity Liability
A private entity is not liable in a class action lawsuit resulting from a cybersecurity event unless it was caused by willful and wanton misconduct or gross negligence on the part of the private entity. Review our Law Guide topic, E-health, to fully understand what is and is not included in this law.  

Legal Department
Member physicians or their staff may contact the Legal Department at or 615-460-1645 to pose questions related to the legal/regulatory side of the practice of medicine or seek guidance regarding practice management issues.

Some recent topics members have asked us to research:
a. A review of a practice’s informed consent form and provide suggestions on the appropriate content. 
b. Whether or not the non-custodial parent of a child had the ability to consent to a medical procedure for the parent’s minor child.  
c. What a practice is required to do with money it owes to a deceased patient.

E-verification of Employees
Employers must follow federal and state law to verify the immigration status of employees and non-employees (I-9 Form). An employer with more than 35 employees must use the E-Verify online system for this verification. TMA’s Law Guide topic E-Verification of Employees covers all the requirements and links to resources.  Member login required.

New Employee Reporting LG topic
All employers doing business in Tennessee are required by state and federal law to report all newly hired and re-hired employees to the Tennessee Department of Human Services. This requirement is applicable regardless of the number of employees in a company. Read the Law Guide topic titled New Employee Reporting to learn when to report, how to report, and the penalties for noncompliance.

Disruptive Patient Policy
Normally when terminating a patient from a practice, TMA advises that the patient receive notice 30 days prior to the termination.  There is an exception and this is for a patient that is violent or threatens violence.  In order to be prepared for this situation, review the Law Guide topics Physician-Patient Relationship and Disruptive Patient Policy.  

TennCare Reimbursement for a Sports Physical
Each of the three TennCare MCOs has discretion to determine its own payment policy regarding sports physicals.  TMA contacted the MCOs regarding their policy on reimbursement for a sports physical and compiled the responses in our Law Guide topic, Sports Physicals: TennCare Policy.


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