Hawaii Regulation of Physicians

The Hawaii regulation of physicians are found in HRS §§ 453-1 through 453-33.  For the purposes of this chapter the practice of medicine by a physician or an osteopathic physician includes the use of drugs and medicines, water, electricity, hypnotism, osteopathic medicine, or any means or method, or any agent, either tangible or intangible, for the treatment of disease in the human subject; provided that when a duly licensed physician or osteopathic physician pronounces a person affected with any disease hopeless and beyond recovery and gives a written certificate to that effect to the person affected or the person’s attendant nothing herein shall forbid any person from giving or furnishing any remedial agent or measure when so requested by or on behalf of the affected person.[i]

Pursuant to HRS § 453-2, except as otherwise provided by law, no person shall practice medicine or surgery in the State, either gratuitously or for pay, or offer to practice medicine or surgery in the State, or advertise or announce one’s self, either publicly or privately, as prepared or qualified to practice medicine or surgery in the State, or append the letters “Dr.”, “M.D.”, or “D.O.” to one’s name with the intent to imply that the person is a practitioner of medicine or surgery, without having a valid unrevoked license or a limited and temporary license obtained from the Hawaii medical board.  Nothing herein shall:

(1) Apply to so-called Christian Scientists; provided that the Christian Scientists practice the religious tenets of their church without pretending a knowledge of medicine or surgery;

(2) Prohibit service in the case of emergency or the domestic administration of family remedies;

(3) Apply to any commissioned medical officer in the United States armed forces or public health service engaged in the discharge of one’s official duty, nor to any practitioner of medicine and surgery from another state when in actual consultation, including in-person, mail, electronic, telephonic, fiber-optic, or other telemedicine consultation with a licensed physician or osteopathic physician of this State, if the physician or osteopathic physician from another state at the time of consultation is licensed to practice in the state in which the physician or osteopathic physician resides; provided that:

  • The physician or osteopathic physician from another state shall not open an office, or appoint a place to meet patients in this State, or receive calls within the limits of the State for the provision of care for a patient who is located in this State;
  • The licensed physician or osteopathic physician of this State retains control and remains responsible for the provision of care for the patient who is located in this State; and the laws and rules relating to contagious diseases are not violated;

(4) Prohibit services rendered by any person certified under part II of this chapter to provide emergency medical services, or any physician assistant, when the services are rendered under the direction and control of a physician or osteopathic physician licensed in this State except for final refraction resulting in a prescription for spectacles, contact lenses, or visual training as performed by an oculist or optometrist duly licensed by the State.  The direction and control shall not be construed in every case to require the personal presence of the supervising and controlling physician or osteopathic physician.  Any physician or osteopathic physician who employs or directs a person certified under part II of this chapter to provide emergency medical services, or a physician assistant, shall retain full professional and personal responsibility for any act that constitutes the practice of medicine when performed by the certified person or physician assistant;

(5) Prohibit automated external defibrillation by:

(A) Any first responder personnel certified by the department of health to provide automated external defibrillation when it is rendered under the medical oversight of a physician or osteopathic physician licensed in this State; or

(B) Any person acting in accordance with section 663-1.5(e); or

(6) Prohibit a radiologist duly licensed to practice medicine and provide radiology services in another state from using telemedicine while located in this State to provide radiology services to a patient who is located in the state in which the radiologist is licensed.  For the purposes of this paragraph:

The Hawaii medical board shall issue a limited and temporary license to an applicant who has not been examined as required by section 453-4, and against whom no disciplinary proceedings are pending in any state or territory, if the applicant is otherwise qualified to be examined, and upon determination that:

(1) There is an absence or a shortage of licensed physicians or osteopathic physicians in a particular locality, and that the applicant has been duly licensed as a physician or osteopathic physician by written examination under the laws of another state or territory of the United States.  A limited and temporary license issued hereunder shall permit the practice of medicine and surgery by the applicant only in the particular locality, and no other, as shall be set forth in the license issued to the applicant.  The license shall be valid only for a period of eighteen months from the date of issuance.  The board shall establish guidelines to determine a locality with an absence or shortage of physicians or osteopathic physicians.  For this purpose, the board may consider a locality to have an absence or shortage of physicians or osteopathic physicians if the absence or shortage results from the temporary loss of a physician or osteopathic physician.  In designating a locality with an absence or shortage of physicians or osteopathic physicians, the board shall not delegate its authority to a private organization;

(2) The applicant is to be employed by an agency or department of the state or county government, and that the applicant has been duly licensed as a physician or osteopathic physician by written examination under the laws of another state or territory of the United States.  A limited and temporary license issued hereunder shall only be valid for the practice of medicine and surgery while the applicant is in the employ of the governmental agency or department and in no case shall be used to provide private patient care for a fee.  A license issued under this paragraph may be renewed from year to year;

(3) The applicant would practice medicine and surgery only while under the direction of a physician or osteopathic physician regularly licensed in the State other than as permitted by this section, and that the applicant intends to take the regular licensing examination conducted by the board within the next eighteen months.  A limited and temporary license issued under this paragraph shall be valid for no more than eighteen months from the date of issuance, unless otherwise extended at the discretion of the board of medical examiners; provided that this discretionary extension shall not exceed a period of six months beyond the original expiration date of the limited and temporary license;

(4) The applicant has been appointed as a resident or accepted for specialty training in a health care facility or organized ambulatory health care facility as defined in section 323D-2 or a hospital approved by the board, and that the applicant shall be limited in the practice of medicine and surgery to the extent required by the duties of the applicant’s position or by the program of training while at the health care facility, organized ambulatory health care facility, or hospital.  The license shall be valid during the period in which the applicant remains as a resident in training, and may be renewed from year to year during the period; or

(5) A public emergency exists, and that the applicant has been duly licensed as a physician or osteopathic physician by written examination under the laws of another state or territory of the United States.  A limited and temporary license issued hereunder shall only be valid for the period of the public emergency.

Nothing herein requires the registration or licensing hereunder of nurses, or other similar persons, acting under the direction and control of a licensed physician or osteopathic physician[ii].

Pursuant to HRS § 453-4, no person shall be licensed to practice medicine or surgery, unless the applicant has passed an examination, and has been found to possess the necessary qualifications.  No applicant shall be eligible for the examination sooner than the first year of residency; provided that if the applicant is a graduate of a foreign medical school, the applicant shall be eligible no sooner than the second year of residency.  Before any applicant shall be eligible for licensure, the applicant shall furnish proof satisfactory to the board that:

(1) The applicant is of demonstrated competence and professional knowledge; and

(2) The applicant is a graduate of:

(A) A medical school or college whose program leading to the M.D. degree is accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education or whose program leading to the D.O. degree is approved by the American Osteopathic Association Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation, and has served a residency of at least one year in a program that has been accredited for the training of resident physicians or osteopathic physicians by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education or the American Osteopathic Association, respectively, or a residency of at least one year in a program in Canada that has been accredited for the training of resident physicians by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, or the College of Family Physicians of Canada; or

(B) A foreign medical school and has had at least two years of residency in a program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education or the American Osteopathic Association, or has had at least two years of residency in a program in Canada that has been accredited for the training of resident physicians by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, or by the College of Family Physicians of Canada; and:

(i) Holds the national certificate of the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, or its successor, or for applicants with residency training in Canada, has passed with scores deemed satisfactory by the board, the Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Examination, or its successor; or

(ii) Holds the certificate of the Fifth Pathway Program of the American Medical Association;

provided that for a period of two years after June 26, 2004, the requirements of subsection (b)(2)(B)(i) and (ii) shall not apply to any applicant who has had four years of residency in a program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education or the American Osteopathic Association and who has passed, with scores deemed satisfactory by the board, the Special Purpose Examination (SPEX).

Applicants who have passed, with scores deemed satisfactory by the board, the National Board of Medical Examiners examination (NBME), the Federation Licensing Examination (FLEX), the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), or a combination of these examinations as approved by the board, or the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners examination (NBOME), the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA), or the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQE), and who meet the requirements of subsection (b) shall be licensed without the necessity of any further examination; provided that with respect to any applicant, the board may require letters of evaluation, professional evaluation forms, and interviews with chiefs of service or attending physicians or osteopathic physicians who have been associated with an applicant, or chief residents on a service who have been associated with an applicant during the applicant’s training or practice, to be used by the board in assessing the applicant’s qualifications to practice medicine.

Applicants who are licensed in another state by virtue of having passed a state-produced examination may qualify for licensure if they have passed the Special Purpose Examination (SPEX) or the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Variable-Purpose Examination – USA (COMVEX-USA) and meet the requirements of subsection (b); provided that the board may require letters of evaluation, professional evaluation forms, and interviews with chiefs of service, attending physicians, or osteopathic physicians who have been associated with an applicant, or chief residents on a service who have been associated with an applicant during the applicant’s training or practice, to be used by the board in assessing the applicant’s qualifications to practice medicine.

HRS § 453-7.5 provides that the department of commerce and consumer affairs shall review each complaint and information received under sections 92-17, 329-44, 453-8.7, 663-1.7, 671-5, and 671-15.  The department shall investigate the complaint or information if it appears that the physician or osteopathic physician who is the subject of the complaint or information has violated this chapter.  If the department determines that the physician or osteopathic physician has violated this chapter, the department shall present the results of its investigation to the Hawaii medical board for appropriate disciplinary proceedings.  Reports of adverse decisions of peer review committees transmitted to the department under section 663-1.7 shall not be available to public inspection or subject to discovery and shall be held confidential by the department; provided that:

(1) A written affirmative or negative reply may be given to a written inquiry by a hospital or health care facility as to whether a report of an adverse decision is on file with the department; and

(2) A subpoenaed report shall be subject to the requirements under section 453-17.

In addition to any other actions authorized by law, any license to practice medicine and surgery may be revoked, limited, or suspended by the board at any time in a proceeding before the board, or may be denied, for any cause authorized by law, including but not limited to the following:

(1) Procuring, or aiding or abetting in procuring, a criminal abortion;

(2) Employing any person to solicit patients for one’s self;

(3) Engaging in false, fraudulent, or deceptive advertising, including but not limited to:

(A) Making excessive claims of expertise in one or more medical specialty fields;

(B) Assuring a permanent cure for an incurable disease; or

(C) Making any untruthful and improbable statement in advertising one’s medical or surgical practice or business;

(4) Being habituated to the excessive use of drugs or alcohol; or being addicted to, dependent on, or a habitual user of a narcotic, barbiturate, amphetamine, hallucinogen, or other drug having similar effects;

(5) Practicing medicine while the ability to practice is impaired by alcohol, drugs, physical disability, or mental instability;

(6) Procuring a license through fraud, misrepresentation, or deceit, or knowingly permitting an unlicensed person to perform activities requiring a license;

(7) Professional misconduct, hazardous negligence causing bodily injury to another, or manifest incapacity in the practice of medicine, osteopathy, or surgery;

(8) Incompetence or multiple instances of negligence, including but not limited to the consistent use of medical service, which is inappropriate or unnecessary;

(9) Conduct or practice contrary to recognized standards of ethics of the medical profession as adopted by the Hawaii Medical Association, the American Medical Association, the Hawaii Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons, or the American Osteopathic Association;

(10) Violation of the conditions or limitations upon which a limited or temporary license is issued;

(11) Revocation, suspension, or other disciplinary action by another state or federal agency of a license, certificate, or medical privilege for reasons as provided in this section;

(12) Conviction, whether by nolo contendere or otherwise, of a penal offense substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a physician or osteopathic physician, notwithstanding any statutory provision to the contrary;

(13) Violation of chapter 329, the uniform controlled substances act, or any rule adopted thereunder except as provided in section 329-122;

(14) Failure to report to the board, in writing, any disciplinary decision issued against the licensee or the applicant in another jurisdiction within thirty days after the disciplinary decision is issued; or

(15) Submitting to or filing with the board any notice, statement, or other document required under this chapter, which is false or untrue or contains any material misstatement or omission of fact.

(b) If disciplinary action related to the practice of medicine has been taken against the applicant in any jurisdiction that would constitute a violation under this section, or if the applicant reveals a physical or mental condition that would constitute a violation under this section, then the board may impose one or more of the following requirements as a condition for licensure:

(1) Physical and mental evaluation of the applicant by a licensed physician or osteopathic physician approved by the board;

(2) Probation, including conditions of probation as requiring observation of the licensee by an appropriate group or society of licensed physicians, osteopathic physicians, or surgeons;

(3) Limitation of the license by restricting the fields of practice in which the licensee may engage;

(4) Further education or training or proof of performance competency; and

(5) Limitation of the medical practice of the licensee in any reasonable manner to assure the safety and welfare of the consuming public[iii].

Pursuant to HRS § 453-8.2, in addition to any other actions authorized by law, in disciplining a licensee in a proceeding held in conformity with chapter 91, the board may impose one or more of the following sanctions:

(1) Place the licensee on probation, including conditions of probation as requiring observation of the licensee by an appropriate group or society of licensed physicians, osteopathic physicians, or surgeons;

(2) Suspend the license;

(3) Revoke the license;

(4) Limit the license by restricting the fields of practice in which the licensee may engage;

(5) Fine the licensee, including assessment against the licensee of the costs of the disciplinary proceedings.  Any fine imposed by the board after a hearing in accordance with chapter 91 shall be not less than $500 and not more than $5,000 for each violation, exclusive of the costs of the disciplinary proceedings;

(6) Require further education or training, or require proof of performance competency; or

(7) Censure or reprimand.

Unless otherwise expressly provided, the actions, remedies, or penalties provided by this chapter are cumulative to each other and to the actions, remedies, or penalties available under all other laws of this State.  Any person who violates this chapter, or who offers or in any way attempts to engage in the practice of medicine as defined in section 453-1 and fails to comply with any of the requirements or provisions of this chapter, penalty for which violation or failure to comply is not otherwise provided for, shall be fined not more than $500 or imprisoned not more than six months and each day’s violation or failure to comply shall be deemed a separate offense.  All tools, implements, medicine, and drugs used in the practice of medicine by any person convicted of practicing medicine without a license shall be declared forfeited to the State by the court and ordered destroyed[iv].

[i] HRS § 453-1.

[ii] HRS § 453-3.

[iii] HRS § 453-8.

[iv] HRS § 453-13.


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