Skip to site content

Risk Matters: Treating Family Members

In general, physicians should not treat themselves, members of their own family, or people with whom they have an intimate relationship.  There are specified limited exceptions such as in emergency settings, where there is no other qualified physician available, and for short-term, minor problems.  See AMA Code of Medical Ethics, 1.2.1 Treating Self or Family.  In addition to the AMA, individual state Medical Boards have enacted forms of this ethical prohibition which can vary from state-to-state.

Recently, there has been an uptick in the number of state Board investigations related to physicians treating themselves and family members.  Many of these investigations are a result of physicians prescribing Scheduled drugs to themselves, family members, and/or intimate partners but not all of them involve controlled substances.  These types of investigations can lead to suspension or loss of license to practice medicine, fines, and costs.

Physicians should be familiar with the AMA Code related to this subject as well as the requirements of the state in which they practice. SVMIC members can access links to Medical Boards and other state-specific information here.

About The Author

Jeffrey A. Woods is the Director of Risk Education in the Risk Education and Evaluation Services Department at SVMIC. Jeff received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Tennessee Martin and his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Tennessee Knoxville. Following graduation, he practiced law in Knoxville for almost 15 years, advising physicians and healthcare providers and defending them in malpractice claims. He is licensed to practice in Tennessee and all Federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court. He is a member of the Tennessee Bar Association.

Jeff joined SVMIC in 2003 and was a Senior Claims Attorney until 2015 when he transferred to his current position.

The contents of The Sentinel are intended for educational/informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Policyholders are urged to consult with their personal attorney for legal advice, as specific legal requirements may vary from state to state and/or change over time.

Apply Today

Our team is here to answer any questions you might have or to help you fill out a quote application.

need help?

We're always just an email or phone call away.

contact us