Frequently Asked Questions
for the Virginia Board of Medicine
When must I have the required number of continuing competency hours completed in order to renew my license?
Attestation of continuing competency hours is required at the time of renewal for an active license. Falsification on the renewal form is a violation of law and may subject you to disciplinary action.
Am I required to send in evidence of my continuing competency hours at the time I renew?
No. The Board will randomly select licensees for a post-renewal audit. If selected, you would be notified by mail that documentation is required and given a time frame within which to comply.
Who maintains the required documents for verification of continuing competency hours?
It is the practitioner's responsibility to maintain the certificates and any other continuing competency forms or records for six years following renewal. Do not send any forms or documents to the Board of Medicine unless requested to do so.
What are "Type 1" hours?
Type 1 hours (at least 30 each biennium) are those that can be documented by an accredited sponsor or organization sanctioned by the profession. If the sponsoring organization does not award a participant with a dated certificate indicating the activity or course taken and the number of hours earned, the practitioner is responsible for obtaining a letter on organizational letterhead verifying the hours and activity. All 60 continuing competency hours each biennium may be Type 1 hours.
What are "Type 2" hours?
Type 2 hours (no more than 30 each biennium) are those earned in self-study, attending professionally related meetings, research and writing for a journal, learning a new procedure, sitting with the hospital ethics panel, etc. They are activities chosen by the practitioner based on assessment of his/her practice. They do not have to be sponsored by an accrediting organization but must be recorded by the practitioner on the form provided by the Board.
Where do I obtain the instructions and forms for continuing competency requirements?
Forms and instructions are included in the January 2000 newsletter from the Board of Medicine. You should retain a copy to begin recording your hours, or you may download them from the Forms and Applications section of this website. Records may be maintained electronically, but copies of documentation and forms will be necessary if a practitioner is audited following a renewal cycle. Forms may also be copied.
Is it possible for a practitioner to earn accredited hours that are sanctioned by the profession but are outside the specialty area in which he/she practices?
Yes. For example, a pediatrician or a surgeon could receive credit for documented hours sponsored by the American Academy of Family Practice.
What if I have earned the AMA Physician Recognition Award or have been recertified by my specialty board? Would that count for my continuing competency hours?
Yes. Provided the Board has documented proof that the requirements to obtain the AMA award (or other similar awards) or specialty board certification are equal to or exceed those required for renewal of licensure. It would only be necessary to submit evidence of having such an award or certification.
What if I am newly licensed? Do I still have to obtain the full 60 hours of continued competency?
No. There is an exemption for those persons and for anyone practicing solely without pay in a practice (free clinic, rescue squad, etc.) that is under the direction of a fully licensed physician.
What if I become ill or incapacitated and unable to complete my continuing competency requirements prior to renewal?
Upon written request from the practitioner explaining the circumstances, the Board may grant an extension or exemption for all or part of the required hours.
What if I am now retired and don't want to obtain continuing competency hours but don't want to give up my license?
You may request an inactive license from the Board, beginning with your next renewal. It is important to note that holding an inactive license does not authorize anyone to engage in the practice of medicine, osteopathy, podiatry or chiropractic in Virginia. If you intend to practice at all in Virginia, even on a part-time or non-compensatory basis, you must retain your active license.
What happens if I take inactive licensure status and later decide to reactivate?
A practitioner seeking to reactivate a license must pay the active renewal fee and obtain the number of hours which would have been required for the years in which the license was inactive (not to exceed four years). If the practitioner has not been engaged in active practice for more than four years, he/she may be required to pass a special purpose examination in his area of licensure.
How do I verify my license?
Go to www.dhp.virginia.gov and click on “License Lookup” from the menu bar. This is current, primary source verification.
You may also request your license verification be sent via fax by calling (804) 270-6836, entering the license number or social security number to be verified and the fax number to where you want the fax sent.
Written verification of a license from the board requires a written request to the board office. The fee is $10.00 per license number per location. The request should have the following:
- Licensee’s full name at the time they were licensed in Virginia.
- The appropriate fee.
- Either a license number or social security number, preferably both.
- The mailing address to where you want the verification sent.
Please make your check payable to the Treasurer of Virginia and send it to the Board of Medicine, 9960 Mayland Drive, Suite 300, Henrico, VA 23233.
Please note the following:
- Verifications are processed and mailed out within 5-7 business days of receipt.
- Verifications may only be faxed by using the automated system (804) 270-6836.
- Do not send a prepaid envelope for overnight delivery. Under no circumstances will the Board send license verifications for overnight delivery even with a prepaid envelope.
- We will work with you to ensure that your verifications are received. However, after two (2) attempts and/or three (3) months have lapsed, a new fee will be required for a reprinting of any verification.
How long does it take to process an application for license?
The average time to process an application is 6 to 8 weeks.
How long will it take to receive my renewed license once fees have been sent?
Licenses are updated upon receipt of fees. A current license is printed, mailed and delivered to its destination within 10 working days. If you do not receive your updated license within four weeks of payment, contact the board office.
How can I obtain certification for expert witness testimony?
You may mail or fax your request for certification to the board with the educational and examination information necessary to determine eligibility for licensure.
How do I make a name/address change?
A name change must be made in writing with a copy of legal documentation of name change. Address changes must also be made in writing. An acknowledgment of the change will be generated. If you do not receive an acknowledgment within three weeks, please contact the board.
Regulation 18VAC85-20-25 (effective October 19, 2005) specifies that treating or prescribing must be based on a bona fide practitioner-patient relationship, and prescribing must meet the criteria set forth in §54.1-3303 of the Code of Virginia. Those criteria provide that the practitioner shall:
(i) ensure that a medical or drug history is obtained;
(ii) provide information to the patient about the benefits and risks of the drug being prescribed;
(iii) perform or have performed an appropriate examination of the patient, either physically or by the use of instrumentation and diagnostic equipment through which images and medical records may be transmitted electronically; except for medical emergencies, the examination of the patient shall have been performed by the practitioner himself, within the group in which he practices, or by a consulting practitioner prior to issuing a prescription; and
(iv) initiate additional interventions and follow-up care, if necessary, especially if a prescribed drug may have serious side effects.
When treating or prescribing for self or family, the practitioner must maintain a patient record documenting compliance with statutory criteria for a bona fide practitioner-patient relationship.
A practitioner may prescribe Schedule VI controlled substances
(as defined in as defined in §54.1-3455
of the Code of Virginia) for him/her self or a family member. A practitioner
cannot prescribe a controlled substance to himself or a family member, other
than Schedule VI, unless the prescribing occurs in an emergency situation
or in isolated settings where there is no other qualified practitioner available
to the patient, or it is for a single episode of an acute illness through
one prescribed course of medication.
I am closing my practice - what notice do I have to give patients and what do I do with my patient records?
If you are transferring medical records in conjunction with the sale or
closure of your practice, §54.1-2405
of the Code of Virginia states:
“A. No person licensed, registered, or certified by one of the health regulatory boards under the Department shall transfer records pertaining to a current patient in conjunction with the closure, sale or relocation of a professional practice until such person has first attempted to notify the patient of the pending transfer, by mail, at the patient's last known address, and by publishing prior notice in a newspaper of general circulation within the provider's practice area, as specified in § 8.01-324.
The notice shall specify that, at the written request of the patient or an authorized representative, the records or copies will be sent, within a reasonable time, to any other like-regulated provider of the patient's choice or provided to the patient pursuant to § 32.1-127.1:03. The notice shall also disclose whether any charges will be billed by the provider for supplying the patient or the provider chosen by the patient with the originals or copies of the patient's records. Such charges shall not exceed the actual costs of copying and mailing or delivering the records.
B. For the purposes of this section:
"Current patient" means a patient who has had a patient encounter with the provider or his professional practice during the two-year period immediately preceding the date of the record transfer.
"Relocation of a professional practice" means the moving of a practice located in Virginia from the location at which the records are stored at the time of the notice to another practice site that is located more than 30 miles away or to another practice site that is located in another state or the District of Columbia.
Who owns the medical record - the practitioner or the patient?
Virginia Code § 32.1-127.1:03 declares that medical records are the "property of the provider maintaining them". The law recognizes "a patient's right of privacy in the content of a patient's medical record" and makes the practitioner responsible for ensuring that the patient's records are only released in accordance with law.
The definition of "record" is expansive and includes all written, printed or electronically recorded material, maintained by a provider in connection with a patient, as well as the substance of any communication between the patient and provider during the course of providing services. It also includes other information acquired by the provider about the patient in connection with the provision of health care services to the patient, including records obtained from or created by another health care provider.
Note: The law does not apply to health care records created in connection with the Workers Compensation Act or to records of minors, except as issues concerning minors' records are specifically addressed in the statute. Virginia Code § 54.1-2969 addresses when a minor is deemed to be an adult for the purpose of accessing or authorizing the disclosure of medical records related to certain medical or health services.
How do I get a copy of my medical record?
A request for copies of medical records must be in writing, dated and signed by the person making the request, and include a reasonable description of the records sought. If someone is making a request on your behalf, he or she must provide evidence of the authority to receive the records (such as a power of attorney). The provider must accept a photocopy, facsimile, or other copy of the original signed by the requester as if it were an original (Virginia Code § 32.1-127.1:03).
Upon receipt of such a request, the health care provider has 15 days to do one of the following:
- provide copies of the records;
- inform the requester if the information does not exist or cannot be found;
- inform the requester of the provider who now maintains the records; or
- deny the records for specific reasons set out in Section F of the statute.
§ 32.1-127.1:03 also provides that the patient's physician or clinical psychologist may make a notation in a patient's record that furnishing of the records will be "would be reasonably likely to endanger the life or physical safety of the individual or another person, or that such health record makes reference to a person other than a health care provider and the access requested would be reasonably likely to cause substantial harm to such referenced person." If a patient's request for his record is denied for this reason, the provider must permit the record to be copied and reviewed by a provider, selected by the patient, of similar background to the individual who made the notation in the chart, and that practitioner may make a judgment as to whether the records should be made available to the patient.
What will I be charged for a copy of my medical record?
If an individual requests a copy of his health record from a health care entity, the health care entity may impose a reasonable cost-based fee, which shall include only the cost of supplies for and labor of copying the requested information, postage when the individual requests that such information be mailed, and preparation of an explanation or summary of such information as agreed to by the individual. For the purposes of this section, "individual" includes a person with authority to act on behalf of the individual who is the subject of the health record in making decisions related to his health care.
If an attorney or insurer requests a copy in conjunction with civil litigation, the charges are set in § 8.01-413 of the Code of Virginia.
How long does a provider have to keep a medical record?
Regulations of the Board (18VAC85-20-26) state that practitioners must maintain a patient record for a minimum of six years following the last patient encounter with the following exceptions:
- Records of a minor child, including immunizations, must be maintained until the child reaches the age of 18 or becomes emancipated, with a minimum time for record retention of six years from the last patient encounter regardless of the age of the child;
- Records that have previously been transferred to another practitioner or health care provider or provided to the patient or his personal representative; or
- Records that are required by contractual obligation or federal law to be maintained for a longer period of time.
What is Virginia law about advance medical directives and other such "end of life" issues? Is there a suggested format for an advance directive?
Virginia law on advance directives, durable do not resuscitate orders, and related issues may be found in the Health Care Decisions Act. A suggested format for an advance medical directive is found in the law in § 54.1-2984.