Baton Rouge --- Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco issued Executive Order 2005-33 to allow out-of-state doctors and other licensed medical professionals to provide emergency services to patients.  The Executive Order was renewed several times and is now set to expire on Saturday, Dec. 31, 2005.  In anticipation of this expiration date, the Department of Health worked with various professional boards to develop an expedited process for a temporary “permission to practice.”

“In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Health asked that licensing requirements be temporarily suspended,” said LDH Secretary Dr. Fred Cerise. “This order allowed the many hundreds of doctors and other medical professionals to come to Louisiana and provide assistance to our citizens without having to meet the same licensing standards that are required of permanent health care professionals.”

The Executive Order was needed due to the emergency conditions created by the hurricanes including the closures of the offices of professional licensing boards and to provide tort liability coverage for such medical volunteers. The order allowed out-of-state health professionals to meet all the legal requirements necessary to immediately begin offering assistance.

With the expiration of the Executive Order, in conjunction with the Board of Medical Examiners, the Board of Dentistry and the Board of Nursing, the Department of Health has developed a process that will allow medical professionals providing volunteer medical services to continue to practice in Louisiana. For an additional 60 days, medical professionals who meet certain criteria can continue to practice in Louisiana without being licensed by the state. This includes out-of-state medical professionals who 1) possess a current medical license in good standing in their respective states, 2) practice in good faith and within the reasonable scope of their skills, training or ability and 3) will provide volunteer outpatient services at locations specified by LDH for a limited time basis.

“We would like to thank the boards for all of their help in expediting the process of enabling medical volunteers to continue offering their valuable services in Louisiana,” added Cerise. “We also thank all medical volunteers who offered their assistance. The work that was performed in Louisiana hospitals, clinics and shelters played a significant role in the positive health outcomes of our citizens during this disaster.”

For more information please contact the Louisiana Department of Health at 225-342-9500; Louisiana Board of Medical Examiners at 504-568-6820; Louisiana Board of Nursing at 225-763-3570 or the Louisiana Board of Dentistry at 504-568-8574.