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When is a patient a patient?

Hospitals and their specialist providers often raise the question: “When does a patient become ‘my patient,’” when seeking to provide medical services remotely, where the patient is in a geography that doesn’t fall within their current licensure. While this may seem like a simple question, its complexity can be determinative of a potentially complex legal issue.

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Unraveling Cross-State Licensure For Second Opinions: Highlights From The Live Q&A Discussion

Although lumped together into the category of telemedicine, the law of most U.S. states and territories treatsepisodic medical consultations (physician to physician consults or remote second opinions) differently. 

Currently, 15 states and territories specifically permit an out-of-state physician to provide a consultation or second opinion directly to a local patient. An expanded number of 35 jurisdictions allow this consult to occur as long as this consult or opinion is done in conjunction with the local physician who maintains the physician -patient relationship.

Only 4 states actually prohibit these consults, leaving 15 jurisdictions silent on whether this practice is or is not permitted.

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