Policyholder Services

Am I covered under my OMIC policy if I recommend the use of marijuana for ophthalmic conditions?

Coverage extends under the OMIC policy for services within the ordinary and customary scope of practice of an ophthalmologist. In states where the use of marijuana for medical conditions is legal, a physician may recommend its use as an adjunct treatment for ophthalmic conditions if the physician believes it will be beneficial for the patient. However, physicians should use caution since there is limited peer-reviewed evidence supporting marijuana as an effective treatment, and the benefits may not outweigh the risks for certain conditions. See the American Glaucoma Society 2009 Position Statement on Marijuana and the Treatment of Glaucoma, for example. Those who recommend marijuana to patients or certify patients as having specific medical conditions for which use of marijuana may be beneficial should discuss the potential risks and benefits with the patient as well as other treatment options. This discussion should also be documented in the patient’s medical record. 

Physicians who recommend the use of medical marijuana or certify conditions for its use should also use caution to ensure they are following state and federal laws in this regard. Certain procedures may need to be followed in order for these activities to be legal. For example, the physician may need to develop a treatment plan with objectives for each patient and review the treatment’s efficacy.  Additionally, it may be unlawful for a physician to issue a prescription for marijuana or to distribute, dispense, or otherwise assist a patient in obtaining marijuana.  While OMIC’s policy covers physicians for medical professional liability claims by patients alleging injury,  the company will not defend the insured or pay damages, fines, or penalties associated with criminal charges against the physician.

Due to OMIC’s scope of practice exclusion, coverage generally would not extend to ophthalmologists who staff a medical marijuana clinic to certify patients with various non-ophthalmic medical conditions. If you evaluate (or plan to evaluate) patients with non-ophthalmic conditions for their potential eligibility for use of marijuana for medical reasons, please contact your underwriting representative.

For additional resources, please see the related links under Growing Acceptance of Medical and Recreational Use of Marijuana Presents Coverage Concerns for Ophthalmologists.

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OMIC is the largest insurer of ophthalmologists in the United States and we've been the only physician-owned carrier to continuously offer coverage in all states since 1987. Our fully portable policy can be taken with you wherever you practice. Should you move to a new state or territory, you're covered without the cost or headache of applying for new coverage.