Resources & Information

Emergency/disaster licensure

What is a limited emergency license?

A NC limited emergency license allows the license holder to practice medicine in the state of North Carolina during a declared state of emergency. By order of the Board, authority to practice ends 30 days after the state of emergency is declared ended by the Governor.

What is the application process for the limited emergency license?

Applicants complete a brief online application. Upon verification that the applicant currently holds a full, unlimited and unrestricted license in another state, NCMB issues the limited emergency license electronically.

How long does it take for a limited emergency license to be issued?

NCMB developed its process to work as quickly as possible. In many cases, limited emergency licenses can be issued within minutes. Difficulties verifying licensure in another jurisdiction or past regulatory history extends the process.

How can I demonstrate proof of emergency licensure in NC, if needed?

Proof of licensure can be obtained using NCMB’s online “Look up a doctor or PA” search tool to look up the limited emergency license holder.

How do I keep patient assessment and treatment records at makeshift shelters?

The administrator or organizer of a makeshift shelter or treatment center should make appropriate provisions for patient evaluation and treatment records. Some form of medical record is critical for any patient care. If no other means is available the provider should maintain a personal diary with, at a minimum, patient identification, patient assessment, treatment, and disposition information.  Regardless of how patient evaluation and treatment records are maintained, adequate and appropriate safeguards must be employed to assure patient privacy and confidentiality.

Can physician with an LEL extend his or her scope of practice, for example psychiatrist providing emergency wound care or prescribing medication for diabetes?

LEL providers should use reasonable clinical judgement when confronted with a patient who presents with an illness or injury that is outside the providers usual scope of practice. Emergency situations may require providers to manage injuries or illness that do not ordinarily treat, but providers should also recall the aphorism “first do no harm”.

What is the threshold for “medical advice”?

The practice of medicine is defined by state law and includes, but is not limited to, “Offering or undertaking to prevent or diagnose, correct, prescribe for, administer to, or treat in any manner or by any means, methods, or devices any disease, illness, pain, wound, fracture, infirmity, defect, or abnormal physical or mental condition of any individual, including the management of pregnancy or parturition.”  Advice to a “patient” regarding medical issues which fall under the state definition of the practice of medicine is medical advice for which a LEL is required.

What standard of care will I be held to?

The Board expects LEL providers to provide medical care commensurate with situation and circumstances. The Board recognizes that standard of care in disasters and emergencies may be different to that of normal circumstances, but LEL providers will still be expected to render patient care similar to what North Carolina health care providers would deliver under similar circumstances. For liability concerns involving malpractice, contact a malpractice carrier or an attorney of your own choosing.

Do Good Samaritan laws apply? Will I be protected?

There is a Good Samaritan law in North Carolina. It applies to volunteer medical or health care providers working at health departments, nonprofits, or volunteer rescue squads who voluntarily and without expectation of compensation render first aid or emergency treatment to persons who are unconscious, ill or injured. It must be reasonably apparent that prompt medical decisions and actions must be taken, and that it is reasonably apparent that any delay in treatment would seriously endanger the person. The volunteer provider is immune to the extent that any resulting harm is not caused by gross negligence, wanton conduct or intentional wrongdoing. These protections do not apply to an individual rendering health care services in the normal and ordinary course of his or her business or profession. For more information about the possible extent of your liability, NCMB advises contacting a malpractice carrier or attorney of your own choosing.

Can an emergency licensee sign death certificates?

Yes, emergency licensees are permitted to complete and sign death certificates using generally accepted guidelines and procedures for completing this document.

Will emergency licensees receive written notification when their license is made inactive?

Yes. When the Governor declares the State of Emergency is no longer in effect, all licensees holding an LEL will be notified that their license has been placed on inactive status.