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New option to fulfill pain management CME took effect Jan. 1

June 21, 2019
Area(s) of Interest: Continuing Medical Education (CME) 


A new law that updates the mandatory continuing medical education (CME) requirement for pain management took effect on January 1, 2019. The new law creates an alternative method by which physicians can satisfy California’s pain management CME requirement.

If you have already taken the required 12 hours of pain management CME, no further action is needed. This new option only applies to newly licensed physicians who have not yet taken any pain CME courses.

Physicians can now fulfill the pain management CME requirement by completing a one-time CME course of 12 credit hours on the treatment and management of opiate-dependent patients, including eight hours of training in buprenorphine treatment, as an alternative to the mandatory 12 hours of CME on pain management and the treatment of terminally ill and dying patients. Such a course will also qualify physicians to be "x-waivered" to provide medication assisted treatment.

Thus, newly licensed physicians may now satisfy the requirement to complete 12 hours of pain CME in one of the following ways:

  1. By completing 12 CME hours in pain management and the treatment of terminally ill and dying patients (as of January 1, 2019, these courses must also include education on the risks of addiction associated with the use of Schedule II drugs);

    OR
  2. By completing a 12-hour CME course on the treatment and management of opiate-dependent patients that includes 8 hours of training in buprenorphine treatment or other similar medicinal treatment for opioid use disorders.

Physicians must complete the one-time mandatory pain management CME within four years of their initial license or by their next license renewal date.

To learn more about CME requirements, including this new requirement, see CMA health law library document #3210, "Pain Management." This document, as well as the rest of CMA’s online health law library, is available free to members at cmadocs.org/health-law-library. Nonmembers can purchase documents for $2 per page.

Contact: CMA Legal Information Line, (800) 786-4262 or via email.

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