Georgia Regulation of Physicians

In Georgia, regulation of physicians are found in O.C.G.A. §§ 43-34-20 through 43-34-47.  O.C.G.A. § 43-34-22 provides that if any person shall hold himself or herself out to the public as being engaged in the diagnosis or treatment of disease or injuries of human beings, or shall suggest, recommend, or prescribe any form of treatment for the palliation, relief, or cure of any physical or mental ailment of any person, with the intention of receiving therefor, either directly or indirectly, any fee, gift, or compensation whatsoever, or shall maintain an office for the reception, examination, or treatment of diseased or injured human beings, or shall attach the title “M.D.,” “Oph.,” “D.,” “Dop.,” “Surgeon,” “Doctor,” “D.O.,” “Doctor of Osteopathy,” “Osteopathic Physician,” or “Physician,” either alone or in connection with other words, or any other word or abbreviation to his or her name indicative that he or she is engaged in the treatment of diseased, defective, or injured human beings, and shall not in any of these cases then possess a valid license to practice medicine under the laws of this state, he or she shall be deemed to be practicing medicine without complying with this article and shall be deemed in violation of this article.

However, nothing in the statute shall be construed to prohibit:

(1) Gratuitous services in cases of emergency;

(2) The practice of the religious tenets or general beliefs of any church whatsoever;

(3) The requiring of a fee for examination by opticians, at their established places of business, who do not prescribe or use drugs or medicines or attach to their names titles indicative that any such persons are engaged in the practice of medicine, as defined in this article;

(4) The performance of their duties for the federal government by federal physicians, both military and civilian;

(5) The consultation on special cases approved by the board in this state of regularly licensed physicians from other states or territories;

(6) The licensed practice of dentistry, optometry, psychology, podiatry, or chiropractic;

(7) The licensed practice of midwifery or nursing;

(8) The utilization of a physician assistant to perform tasks approved by the board, and the performance of such tasks by the physician assistant; the delegation by a physician to a qualified person other than a physician assistant of any acts, duties, or functions which are otherwise permitted by law or established by custom; and the performance of such acts, duties, or functions by such a person other than a physician assistant; or

(9) The performance of:

(A) Any medical task by a student enrolled in a medical school, osteopathic medical school, or physician assistant training program approved by the board;

(B) Any dental task by a student enrolled in a dental college approved by the Georgia Board of Dentistry; or

(C) Any nursing task by a student enrolled in a nursing program approved by the Georgia Board of Nursing where any such task is performed under the supervision of an authorized instructor lawfully licensed in this state to perform such tasks.  Nothing in this article shall be construed as preventing any person holding a valid license as a Doctor of Osteopathy on March 16, 1970, from engaging in the practice of osteopathy as the same was practiced by such person at such time, subject to biennial renewal of his or her license.  Such limited renewal licenses shall not authorize the practice of obstetrics or surgery other than the minor suturing of cuts.

Furthermore, any person who wishes to obtain the right to practice medicine in this state and who was not, prior to March 16, 1970, registered or licensed to practice medicine, either by the State Board of Medical Examiners or the State Board of Examiners in Osteopathy, shall, before it shall be lawful for him or her to practice medicine in this state, make application to the board through the executive director, upon such forms and in such manner as shall be adopted and prescribed by the board, and shall obtain from the board a license to practice medicine.  Any person who practices medicine without first having obtained a license shall be deemed to have violated this article.  All applicants for a license to practice medicine or for a renewal of any such license which has been revoked shall furnish the board with evidence of good moral character.  Applications from candidates to practice medicine or surgery in any of its branches shall be accompanied by proof that the applicant is a graduate of some legally incorporated medical school or osteopathic medical school.

The board by rule or regulation may establish standards for evaluating, inspecting, and approving any medical school or osteopathic medical school.  The evaluation procedure may include consideration of reports from any outside agency having expertise in medical school or osteopathic medical school evaluation; provided, however, that the board shall make the final decision on approval of medical schools and osteopathic medical schools.  Nothing contained in this Code section shall prevent the approval of medical schools outside of the United States or the licensing of graduates of medical schools outside of the United States if such schools and their graduates comply with the standards established in this Code section and by rule of the board.  Each medical school or osteopathic medical school in good standing with the board shall have a minimum preliminary educational requirement of the completion of a two-year premedical college course.

Graduates of board approved medical schools or osteopathic medical schools and persons who graduated on or before July 1, 1985, from medical schools or osteopathic medical schools which are not approved by the board must complete one year of a postgraduate residency training program.  Persons who graduated after July 1, 1985, from medical schools or osteopathic medical schools which are not approved by the board must complete three years of residency, fellowship, or other postgraduate medical training that is approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), or the board to be eligible for a license to practice medicine in this state. Current certification of any applicant by a member board of the American Board of Medical Specialties may be considered by the board as evidence that such applicant’s postgraduate medical training has satisfied the requirements of this paragraph.  However, before any such person shall be eligible to receive a license to practice medicine in this state, he or she shall furnish the board with satisfactory evidence of attainments and qualifications under this Code section and the rules and regulations of the board.  Nothing contained in this Code section shall be construed so as to require a person who has previously passed an examination given by the board for a license to practice medicine in this state to stand another examination.

If the applicant submits proof that he or she has had postgraduate training as required in paragraph (3) of this subsection and if he or she furnishes satisfactory evidence of qualifications under this article and the rules and regulations of the board, he or she shall be eligible to receive a license from the board giving him or her absolute authority to practice medicine in this state.  If the date of graduation from an institution mentioned in subparagraph (B) of paragraph (1) of this subsection is on or before January 1, 1967, no proof of postgraduate training in an approved hospital need be submitted to obtain a license from the board.  Students who have completed the academic curriculum in residence in a foreign medical school and who:

(A) Have studied medicine at a medical school located outside of the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada which is approved by the board; and

(B) Have completed all of the formal requirements of the foreign medical school except any postgraduate training equivalent may substitute for the postgraduate training equivalent required by a foreign country an academic year of supervised clinical training (clinical clerkship) prior to entrance into the first year of American Medical Association approved graduate education.  The supervised clinical training must be under the direction of a medical school approved by the liaison committee on medical education.

Before beginning the supervised clinical training, the students must have their academic records reviewed and approved by the medical schools supervising their clinical training and shall pass the Educational Council for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) qualifying examination.  Students who are judged by the sponsoring medical schools to have successfully completed the supervised clinical training shall be eligible to enter the first year of American Medical Association approved graduate training program without completing internship obligations required by the foreign country and without obtaining Educational Council for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) certification.

For any applicant who has not passed a board approved licensing examination or a board approved specialty board examination or recertification examination within seven years of the date of application, the board shall determine, by an evaluation program established by rule, such person’s fitness to resume active status and may require the person to complete a period of evaluated clinical experience and successful completion of an examination.  The board may also require a licensee or applicant who is subject to discipline pursuant to Code Section 43-34-9 to take and pass a clinical competency assessment or similar examination approved by the board as a condition of licensure.  Nothing contained in this Code section shall be construed so as to require a person who has previously passed an examination approved by the board for a license to practice medicine in this state to stand another examination as a condition of renewal of a current unrestricted license.

The board may approve any examination or examinations that it deems must be passed in order to meet the requirements for licensure.  Such examinations shall be in English.  The board shall establish the passing score which all applicants for licensure shall meet or exceed.  If an applicant fails for the third or any subsequent time any examination which is required to be passed in order to become a licensed practitioner in this state, the applicant shall not be eligible to retake any such examination until such applicant furnishes proof of having completed postgraduate one year of approved Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) training[i].

O.C.G.A. § 43-34-30 provides that licensed physicians of other states and foreign countries may be permitted to enter this state for consultation with any licensed physician of this state.  A physician from another state or from a foreign country shall not be permitted to establish offices in this state for the practice of his or her profession, either temporary or permanent, or practice under another physician’s license, unless he or she obtains a license from the board.

Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 43-34-32, the executive director, with the approval of the chairperson of the board, may in his or her discretion issue a temporary license to an applicant, which license shall have the same force and effect as a permanent license until the next regular meeting of the board when the temporary license shall become void.  O.C.G.A. § 43-34-35 provides that the board shall issue licenses to practice medicine to all persons who shall furnish satisfactory evidence of attainments and qualifications under this article and the rules and regulations of the board.  Such license shall give absolute authority to the person to whom it is issued to practice medicine in this state unless restricted as otherwise authorized by law.

Furthermore, any person who shall buy, sell, or fraudulently obtain any diploma, license, record, or registration to practice osteopathic medicine, illegally obtained or signed, or issued unlawfully or under fraudulent representation; or who shall use any of the forms or letters, “Osteopathy,” “Osteopath,” “Osteopathist,” “Diplomate in Osteopathy,” “D.O.,” “D.Sc.O.,” “Osteopathic Physician,” “Doctor of Osteopathy,” or any other title or letters, either alone or with other qualifying words or phrases, under such circumstances as to induce the belief that the person who uses such term or terms is engaged in the practice of osteopathic medicine, or anyone who shall hold himself or herself out as practicing any other nondrug-giving school of medical practice, without having complied with this article, shall be guilty of a felony[ii].

[i] O.C.G.A. § 43-34-26.

[ii] O.C.G.A. § 43-34-40.


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