Telemedicine raises a number of legal issues of which a significant one is the way in which different states regulate the so-called "corporate practice of medicine."


          The corporate practice of medicine doctrine is a legal rule stating that corporations cannot practice medicine and therefore cannot control physician practices. Laws prohibiting the “corporate practice of medicine” vary by state. The ‘weak’ corporate practice of medicine prohibition precludes non-physicians from owning or controlling a PMC.

          The legal rule against corporate medical practice is typically embodied in the state statute setting forth the requirements for a PMC. The ‘strong’ corporate practice of medicine prohibition typically states that physicians who wish to utilize a corporate vehicle can only practice medicine through a PMC, and cannot provide medical services through a regular corporation or LLC.    

         For example, within the California Medical Practice Act, Business and Professions Code section 2400, provides: "Corporations and other artificial entities shall have no professional rights, privileges, or powers." According to the California Medical Board:

The following health care decisions should be made by a physician licensed in the State of California and would constitute the unlicensed practice of medicine if performed by an unlicensed person:

·         Determining what diagnostic tests are appropriate for a particular condition.

·         Determining the need for referrals to, or consultation with, another physician/specialist.

·         Responsibility for the ultimate overall care of the patient, including treatment options available to the patient.

·         Determining how many patients a physician must see in a given period of time or how many hours a physician must work.

In addition, the following "business" or "management" decisions and activities, resulting in control over the physician’s practice of medicine, should be made by a licensed California physician and not by an unlicensed person or entity:

·         Ownership is an indicator of control of a patient’s medical records, including determining the contents thereof, and should be retained by a California-licensed physician.

·         Selection, hiring/firing (as it relates to clinical competency or proficiency) of physicians, allied health staff and medical assistants.

·         Setting the parameters under which the physician will enter into contractual relationships with third-party payers.

·         Decisions regarding coding and billing procedures for patient care services.

·         Approving of the selection of medical equipment and medical supplies for the medical practice.

For legal guidance concerning application of the corporate practice of medicine doctrine to your telemedicine or other health care related project, please contact our law office.


Our law office has attorneys with legal experience  in FDA matters, including guiding  clients involved in health care  delivery, group medical and private  medical practice, who are concerned  about issues at the interface of  federal and state law, concerned  about medical board discipline or  medical malpractice liability  issues.  We also review and draft informed  consent forms and guide  clients concerning a variety of health care law  issues.

If you have legal questions concerning self-referral, kickbacks and fee-splitting or patient brokering in New York, California, Massachusetts, Washington DC, and other states, contact  a lawyer who knows the rules.

Consult an experienced  health care law attorney who knows complementary medicine and integrative  medicine for legal advice pertaining to any project involving allied health or CAM     professionals.


Healthcare & FDA attorney Michael H. Cohen is a thought leader in healthcare law & FDA law, pioneering legal strategies in healthcare. wellness, and lifestyle markets. As a corporate and transactional lawyer, FDA regulatory attorney who also handles healthcare litigation, healthcare mediation and healthcare arbitration, and international healthcare & wellness law speaker, Los Angeles / Bay Area healthcare & FDA lawyer Michael H. Cohen represents conscious business leaders in a transformational era. Clients seek healthcare & FDA attorney Michael H. Cohen‘s legal savvy on all aspects of business law, healthcare law, and FDA law, including:

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