Doctor gets jail time for out-of-state online prescribing

A Colorado doctor has been slapped with a nine-month jail sentence after prescribing an antidepressant over the web to a California teenager who later committed suicide. The case is believed to be the first instance in which a doctor faced this penalty.

The doctor, Christian Hageseth III, MD, was charged with a felony count of practicing medicine without a license, following an investigation of Dr. Hageseth's actions by the California state medical board. He's now serving his sentence in Colorado.

Dr. Hageseth's prescription violates American Medical Association policy--possibly a standard by which to judge his actions. It requires that doctors who do Internet prescribing have a relationship with the client, having taken a medical history, performed a physical exam and made themselves available for follow-up.

Dr. Hageseth's attorney, for his part, has suggested that the decision could have a chilling effect on telemedicine's growth, as no doctor is likely to get a medical license in all 50 states.

To learn more about this case:
- read this American Medical News piece