Our healthcare and business law firm works with healthcare providers and businesses to IV hydration therapy practices. The IV hydration therapy industry has grown drastically over the past few years. Some states and medical boards have developed laws and rules governing IV Hydration Therapy practices. In 2022, the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners (“Medical Board”) conducted an investigation into ten businesses advertising retail IV hydration therapy services. The investigation revealed that many IV therapy businesses allowed unqualified people to treat patients. Although IV therapy is relatively safe, there are still risks, such as harm to the patient’s kidney. Because there were no rules or regulations directly governing IV therapy businesses, the Medical Board issued a declaratory ruling. This blog post summarizes the Medical Board’s answers to three key questions relating to retail IV Therapy practices in Alabama. If you have a question about the Alabama Medical Board’s 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.
- Is IV Hydration Therapy the Practice of Medicine?
Yes, “the diagnosis of the patient’s condition and the recommendation of IV therapy constitutes the practice of medicine.” It is a Class C felony for a person to practice medicine or osteopathy without a medical license.
- Who can evaluate, diagnose, treat, and prescribe IV Therapy?
“To comply with Alabama law, retail IV therapy businesses must create a physician-patient relationship through the performance of an individual evaluation by a physician or a PA, CRNP, or CNM working in a legal registration or collaboration with a physician.” The evaluation can be done in person or through telemedicine if telemedicine rules are followed.
To be clear, these actions are outside the practice of RNs. An RN cannot create a physician-patient relationship, so, “without an evaluation by the physician to create a physician-patient relationship, the RN is dispensing medical supplies and medications to a person who is not the physician’s patient. This violates both the physician’s and the RN’s legal authority to dispense or administer medications.” The Medical Board specifically states that “standing orders” carried out by RNs can be the unlawful practice of medicine, placing the physician and RN at risk.
- Can a non-physician own an IV Hydration Practice?
Although the answer to this question should be discussed on a case-by-case basis with counsel, the Medical Board summarized this complex issue as follows:
“[T]he involvement of business owners in the operation of retail IV therapy businesses may implicate the prohibition against unlicensed persons maintaining an office or place of business for the purpose of practicing medicine. See Ala. Code § 34-24-50. A business may employ a physician to provide medical services so long as the physician independently exercises his or her medical judgment when providing medical services to his or her patients. See Declaratory Ruling of the Medical Licensure Commission 2-1195 (October 28, 1992). Neither the business nor the business owner is permitted to exercise ‘any control over the manner in which the physicians provide medical services or the independent exercise of the physicians’ medical judgment.’ Id. Whether or not a business is illegally practicing medicine, or whether a physician is illegally aiding and abetting the unlicensed practice of medicine by the business, is a fact intensive inquiry. However, due to the presence of business owners, franchisors and franchisees, and investors in the corporate makeup of retail IV therapy, physicians are cautioned to understand the BME’s regulations and Alabama law before entering employment or partnership with these and similar businesses.”
If you have a question about the Alabama Medical Board’s 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.