An answer to a question on MedicalSciences.SE prompts my question. Suppose I live in Wisconsin and I fly to Texas to undergo a procedure with a specialist there (I chose the states arbitrarily; I'm not asking about state-specific laws).

So I have my procedure and fly back home. This procedure requires medications and months of follow-up care, which means I'll be receiving instructions from the Texas doctor and his staff, refills on prescriptions, and so forth. These interactions are all via phone or email while I remain physically in the state of Wisconsin.

I'm fairly sure all these interactions would be considered "practicing medicine" under the law. However, the Texas doctor is not licensed to practice medicine in the state of Wisconsin; and yet, that's exactly what he's doing.

How does the law view this? Do state laws typically make a specific exception for an ongoing doctor/patient relationship or is this covered only by case law? If it's based on case law, a citation would be a nice addition to an answer. Bonus points for adding how it would work if the specialist was in Europe instead of Texas.

1 Answer 1


I think it really is a state-by-state answer. From a web site for doctors getting involved in Telemedicine.

Some medical boards such as Alabama, Montana and Oregon offer a special purpose telemedicine license. Other states that regulate telepractice in medicine include Texas, Florida, California and Colorado. The levels of regulation vary greatly by state. For example, California and Florida, similar to New York, require full licensure to perform any function relating to patient care, with some exceptions for consultation in some instances. Other states are exploring the issue of telepractice and in general, how to regulate it.

That site has a state-by-state break out of the rules.

I see other things about reciprocity among some nearby states.

Three states (MD, NY, VA) and Washington DC provide reciprocity to bordering states. Alabama and Pennsylvania have agreements with other states to grant licenses to out-of-state physicians who have licenses in states that reciprocally accept their home state licenses. In Connecticut, an out-of-state physician can obtain an in-state license based on his or her home state standards.

  • I don't think what I'm describing would be considered telemedicine, and it certainly was happening routinely and apparently legally long before the concept of telemedicine even existed. Oct 15, 2019 at 14:29
  • The laws and rules discussed on the web site are not necessarily telemedicine specific but are about cross border medical practice in general. Oct 15, 2019 at 19:15
  • If Wisconsin law defines what the doctor in my example is doing as telemedicine, then according to the web site you provided he's breaking the law. I'm skeptical that's the case, and if it is the case, a lot of doctors are routinely practicing medicine without a license. Oct 15, 2019 at 19:41

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