The Texas Medical Board takes disciplinary action for a wide variety of reasons. Whenever you have been called before the medical board, it is imperative you develop an effective medical license defense strategy to protect your license and and your career. One of the issues that could lead to disciplinary action is prescribing medications to family members.
Professional License Defense When Prescribing to Family Members
Providing treating for family members, employees, or friends, is not illegal in the state of Texas. However, prescribing certain medications such as controlled substances for an extended period of time can be a violation of the law and can lead to disciplinary action.
Rules for prescribing controlled substances to family members are found in Chapter 190 of the Texas Medical Board Rules. These rules generally permit physicians to prescribe controlled substances to friends, employees, and close family members for a maximum of 72 hours. However, these controlled substances may be prescribed to family members only when there is an "immediate need" for this method of treatment.
Violating these prescribing rules can lead to not just the loss of a medical license, but also criminal sanctions. Statesman, for example, wrote of one Texas doctor whose license was suspended by the Texas Medical Board in 2011 and who was sentenced to six years in prison in 2012 for prescribing thousands of doses of prescription drugs, including prescribing to his son, who ultimately died of a drug overdose.
While this is an extreme case, it is not uncommon for doctors to provide treatment to loved ones. American Medical News, for example, indicated one study of more than 1,000 physicians found close to half of the doctors had treated themselves and 85 percent had treated a family member, close friends, or significant other. This means if you are treating those you love, you are not alone.
Although it is common for doctors to treat family, there have been many situations where various penalties have been imposed by the Texas Medical Board after phyisicans prescribed to relatives or to others with whom the physician had a close personal relationship.
In many of these cases, the disciplinary action was triggered by the doctor prescribing controlled substances despite lack of clear evidence of an immediate need. However, physicians who prescribe drugs to, or who treat, close family members can also face accusations of failure to adhere to Texas Medical Board medical records rules. All physicians who provide treatment must keep detailed records, even in cases where they simply write a prescription for a family member who is sick.
If you are accused of violating the rules associated with treating or prescribing to family members, you have defense options available. You can demonstrate you followed prescribing rules set forth in Texas Medical Board Rules Chapter 190, including prescribing controlled substances only for a limited period of time to meet an immediate need. You can also demonstrate you kept detailed medical records related to the condition for which you provided treatment and the medical services you offered.