Our healthcare and business law firm previously published a blog post on the federal telemedicine rules. Both Federal and State rules govern the provision of telemedicine. Each state’s rules governing telemedicine are different, and there are specific rules around prescribing medicine from a telemedicine visit. A previous post provided an overview of Alabama’s telemedicine rules. This post focuses specifically on Alabama’s telemedicine prescribing rules. If you have questions about telemedicine rules or would like to discuss this blog post, you may contact our healthcare and business law firm at (404) 685-1662 (Atlanta) or (706) 722-7886 (Augusta), or by email, email@example.com. You may also learn more about our law firm by visiting www.hamillittle.com.
Alabama Rules on Prescribing Based on a Telemedicine Visits
A physician may prescribe medications via telemedicine so long as it would otherwise be authorized under applicable state and federal law. All telemedicine services provided must comply with all federal and state laws and regulations applicable to such services, including HIPAA, and the physician must take reasonable precautions to protect the privacy and security of all verbal, visual, written, or other communications involved therein. Ala. Code § 34-24-705.
The physician must have access to the patient’s medical records, must maintain complete and accurate medical records in compliance with the regulations of the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners and Alabama Medical Licensure Commission, and must be able to produce such records upon demand by the patient or such Board of Commission. Ala. Code § 34-24-705; see also See Ala. Admin. § 540-X-9-.10 (Joint Rules Of The State Board Of Medical Examiners And Medical Licensure Commission For Medical Records Management); Ala. Admin. § 545-X-4-.08 (Joint Guidelines Of The State Board Of Medical Examiners And Medical Licensure Commission For Medical Records Management); Ala. Admin. § 545-X-4-.09 (Minimum Standards for Medical Records).
A prescription for controlled substances issued as a result of telemedicine services requires that: (i) the telemedicine visit include synchronous (i.e. real-time exchange) audio or audio-visual communications between the prescribing-physician and patient via HIPAA-compliant equipment; (ii) the prescribing-physician must have had at least one in-person encounter with the patient within the preceding twelve (12) month period; and (iii) the prescribing-physician must have established a legitimate medical purpose for issuing the prescription within the preceding twelve (12) month period. Ala. Code § 34-24-704. Those two requirements are excepted if the prescription is for the treatment of a patient’s medical emergency. Id.
The Alabama Board issued a notice about relaxed enforcement standards during the public health emergency, but the relaxed requirements apply to “existing patients.” Joint Notice of Enforcement Discretion.
As is clear from the above, medical practices must be thoughtful before offering telemedicine prescribing services. If you have questions about telemedicine prescribing rules or would like to discuss this blog post, you may contact our healthcare and business law firm at (404) 685-1662 (Atlanta) or (706) 722-7886 (Augusta), or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also learn more about our law firm by visiting www.hamillittle.com.
*Disclaimer: Thoughts shared here do not constitute legal advice.