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Legal FAQs

Treating Relatives
Can I treat my relatives?

Indiana law does not address this issue specifically. However, Indiana law permits a pharmacist to decline to fill a valid prescription for a controlled substance if doing so is against his or her professional judgment. IC 25-26-13-16 and 856 IaC 2-6-2 . This provision has sometimes been used by pharmacists in refusing to fill prescriptions written for relatives.

AMA Ethical policy E-8.19 states that physicians generally should not treat themselves or members of their immediate families. The policy explains the rationale. It notes that there are some situations in which routine care is acceptable for short-term, minor problems. It also states that except in emergencies, it is not appropriate for physicians to write prescriptions for controlled substances for themselves or immediate family members.

Medicare bars payment for items and services rendered by physicians to immediate relatives of the physician, to the physician’s partner in a partnership or to members of their household. The exclusion also includes services provided incident to. “Immediate relatives” is defined to include husband and wife; natural or adoptive parent, child and sibling; stepparent, stepchild, stepbrother, and stepsister; father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, and sister-in-law; grandparent and grandchild; and spouse of grandparent and grandchild.

Medicare Benefit Policy Manual, Chapter 16, Section 130.
As an aside, the AMA has a policy statement opposing the Medicare policy in part. See AMA Ethical Policy H-385.955.

Consult your contracts with commercial payers to find out if they have rules about treating relatives.

Medical malpractice insurance companies may have legal or risk management concerns about this practice. Contact them for advice.

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