Alabama Medical Regulators Release 2020 Annual Report

The Alabama State Board of Medical Regulators and Medical Licensure Commission recently released its 2020 Annual Report, highlighting medical licensing statistics in the state.

Alabama currently has 10,999 licensed allopathic physicians (MDs) and 839 licensed osteopathic physicians (DOs), for a total of 11,838 physicians with active, full licenses. This total does not include licenses to practice across state lines, for postgraduate training, for state institutions or for Retired Senior Volunteers.

Alabama renewed 1,058 physician assistant (PA) licenses and issued 145 new PA licenses in 2020.

Source: Alabama State Board of Medical Regulators and Medical Licensure Commission 2020 Annual Report


Georgia House of Representatives Passes Physician Sexual Misconduct Legislation

New legislation pending in Georgia would require physicians and dentists licensed in the state to undergo special training aimed at preventing sexual misconduct.

The Georgia House of Representatives adopted House Bill 458, which would require that physicians and dentists participate in a single educational session on sexual misconduct and professional boundaries lasting at least three hours, and that medical schools add content in their curriculum, aimed at training medical students about the issue.

In addition, the bill requires physicians to report their colleagues who engage in sexual misconduct and it authorizes the Georgia Composite Medical Board to revoke or suspend the licenses of physicians convicted of sexually assaulting patients. The bill also requires new measures of transparency in the way the Board reports on how it addresses sexual misconduct cases.

The bill passed by a 131-27 vote in the House — but still needs to be passed by the Georgia Senate and signed by the Governor before it becomes law.

Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Feb. 27, 2021; Associated Press, February 26, 2021


Maine COVID-19 Emergency Licenses Expand Physician Workforce

In March of 2020, Maine Governor Janet Mills issued an executive order, creating an emergency Maine license free of cost or fee to assist in the state’s health care response to COVID-19. Following the issuance of the order, the Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine created a “COVID-19 Emergency License,” which authorizes physicians and physician assistants who are licensed in good standing in another state, who have no disciplinary or adverse action in the past ten years and want to assist in Maine to receive an emergency license valid during Maine’s state of emergency.

Since the emergency license provision last year, the Board reports that it has received, processed, and issued more than 850 COVID-19 Emergency Licenses to physicians and physician assistants. According to the Board, this has increased its pool of licensees statewide by more than 13%, with the majority of emergency licensees indicating that they would provide medical support through telemedicine.

The COVID-19 Emergency Licenses will expire at the end of the declared state of emergency in Maine.

Source: Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine Newsletter, Spring 2021


Physician Assistant Supervision Requirements Temporarily Relaxed in Ohio

Emergency measures signed into law in Ohio December 29, 2020 have been helping the state respond to the COVID-19 pandemic — including temporary relaxation of supervisory requirements related to physician assistants.

Under Senate Bill 310, physician assistants (PAs) that are employed by or under contract with a hospital or other health care facility, may practice under the direction, control and supervision of any physician or podiatrist in that setting regardless of whether they have a supervision agreement with that physician or podiatrist.

These PAs may perform services within their scope of practice, if authorized by the physician or podiatrist and the hospital or health care facility, regardless if those services are authorized in any existing supervision agreement to which they are a party.

Source: State Medical Board of Ohio eNews, January 2021

State Medical Board of Ohio Celebrates 125 Years of Public Service

The State Medical Board of Ohio celebrated its 125th anniversary of public service on February 27. When the Board was established in 1896, it only licensed allopathic physicians and midwives. Today, it regulates more than 95,000 physicians and other health care professionals.

Since its establishment, the board has licensed more than 240,000 individuals to practice in Ohio. One hundred and thirty-three men and women have served as Board members during its 125-year history.

Source: State Medical Board of Ohio eNews, February 2021

New Law in Ohio Brings Statutory Changes Impacting Licensees

Ohio Governor DeWine recently signed House Bill 442 into law, bringing a number of statutory changes that will impact State Medical Board of Ohio licensees. Among them:

  • Cosmetic Therapists: The license requirement for cosmetic therapists in Ohio has been eliminated. Cosmetic therapists will no longer be licensed by the Medical Board or any other licensing entity in Ohio.

  • Oriental Medicine Practitioner: The license requirement for oriental medicine practitioners in Ohio has been eliminated. All oriental medicine licenses will be converted to acupuncture licenses under Medical Board regulation, and licensees will be required to meet the renewal requirements for acupuncturists in order to renew their licenses.

  • Massage Therapy: The amount of education hours required to complete a massage therapy program will be reduced from 750 to 600 hours.

  • Physician Assistant: Changes in the law will now allow the Medical Board to recognize any accrediting organization for physician assistant education programs. Previously, the board required physician assistants to be accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education.

Source: State Medical Board of Ohio eNews, March 2021


Oregon Medical Board Annual Report Shows Licensing and Discipline Trends

The Oregon Medical Board welcomed 1,735 new licensees in several categories in 2020, pushing its total licensed workforce to 23,946, according to its 2020 Annual Report. Subtotals included 17,556 allopathic physicians (MD), 2,047 osteopathic physicians (DO), 2,518 physician assistants (PA), 1,589 acupuncturists (LAc) and 236 podiatric physicians (DPM).

Across all categories, roughly 55% of the Board’s licensee population is age 49 or younger, 22% is 50 to 59, 16% is 60 to 69 and 7% is over 70. Males make up roughly 56% of the workforce and females 44%.

The Board opened 750 investigations in 2020, compared with 842 in 2019 and 819 in 2018. It closed 768 investigations in 2020, compared with 815 in 2019 and 732 in 2018.

Top categories of complaints received by the Board in 2020 included unprofessional conduct (40%), followed by inappropriate care (30%), other/miscellaneous (9%), inappropriate prescribing (7%), malpractice review (3%), failure to report (3%), board compliance (3%), and sexual misconduct (2%).

Source: Oregon Medical Board 2020 Annual Report

Rhode Island

Rhode Island Medical Board’s 2020 Annual Report is Released

The Rhode Island Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline has released licensure and disciplinary statistics for the state in its 2020 Annual Report.

The Board issued 565 physician licenses in 2020, compared to 474 in 2019, 476 in 2018 and 430 in 2017. The average number of days to receive a physician license was 28 in 2020, compared to 26 in 2019, 25 in 2018 and 31 in 2017.

The state licensed 4,946 allopathic (MD) physicians in 2020, followed by 437 osteopathic (DO) physicians, along with a number of other limited-physician-license categories, for a total of 5,386 licensed physicians statewide. This compares to 5,598 licensed physicians in 2019, 5,085 in 2018 and 5,408 in 2017.

The Board received 704 complaints in 2020, 544 in 2019, 597 in 2018 and 320 in 2017. It opened 163 complaints for investigation in 2020, 243 in 2019, 256 in 2018, and 122 in 2017.

In 2020, the issue most frequently cited in physician disciplinary actions was medical record keeping, followed by failing to meet the minimum standard of care and controlled substance prescribing.

Source: Rhode Island Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline 2020 Annual Report


Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances Now Required in Texas

Under legislation passed in Texas, electronic prescribing of controlled substances (Schedules II–V) by physicians was made mandatory as of January 1, 2021.

The new law establishes a waiver from the electronic prescribing requirements in certain situations, including economic hardship, technological limitations outside of the prescriber’s control and other exceptional circumstances.

Once approved, waivers issued by the state will be valid for one year. A prescriber may reapply no earlier than 30 days before the date the waiver expires.

Source: Texas Medical Board newsletter, January 2021

West Virginia

Board Revises Social Media Position Statement

The West Virginia Board of Medicine, which has embarked on a long-term project to review and update its position statements on various topics, has approved a revised policy titled “The Appropriate Use of Social Media and Electronic Communications in Medical Practice.”

The revised guidelines were adopted following the release of model policy guidelines by the FSMB Ethics and Professionalism Committee and approved by the FSMB House of Delegates.

The revised position statement includes discussion of principles and ethical implications of social media and electronic communications; current and emerging social media and electronic platforms; use cases for social media and electronic communication; professional disciplinary action that may result from inappropriate use of social media; and guidelines and recommendations for both personal and professional use.

A total of 16 guidelines are offered, recommended for physicians who use social media or electronic communication in their personal and professional lives.

Source: West Virginia Board of Medicine fall 2020 newsletter