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Want to turn your doctor back in your home state into a criminal? Just call them from Montana.
A representative of the Montana Board of Medical Examiners just told me by telephone that if your physician does not have a MT license and they talk to you while you are located in MT, the Board can deem them to be practicing medicine without a license. Montana is not Big Skype Country.
Physician, if your patient calls with a question about a symptom or medication, ask them where they are, or maybe you have already committed a crime by simply saying hello. If they say Montana, hang up.
The MT Board does not seem to care that by refusing to provide medical advice by telephone the physician might have abandoned the patient.
Shame on the MT Board for imposing this dilemma on physicians, leaving us between the Rockies and a hard place. This ill-conceived policy should have a chilling effect on tourism in MT.
I hope after they read this post someone from the MT Board will post a comment to the effect that this is not really their policy. Until then, Montana will remain on my blacklist for my patients and myself to travel there.
But potential workarounds exist:
The patient can lie about their location. The MT Board does not seem to grasp the possibility that the physician has no way of knowing where the patient is located, unless they recognize the snow-covered mountains in the background.
The patient can travel to Wyoming. The board there tells me the physician does not need a WY license as long as the encounter involves a pre existing illness.
Could the patient travel to Idaho? I should have a ruling from the ID board by next week.
FSMB (Federation of State Medical Boards), copping out as usual, has not commented on the MT Board’s policy.