Articles Posted in COVID-19 Regulations

image_4-e1631547014743Last week, our blog post discussed the general rules permitting telemedicine in Georgia.  Often, our healthcare and business law firm’s provider clients who conduct telemedicine also need to understand the requirements around prescribing controlled substances based on telemedicine visits.  This post intends to outline some of the relevant prescribing rules in Georgia and the exceptions due to the Public Health Emergency (PHE) created by COVID-19.  This post intends to outline some relevant Georgia rules and regulations relating to telemedicine.  If you have questions about telemedicine or 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, You may also learn more about our law firm by visiting

Georgia Rules on Prescribing Controlled Substances via Telemedicine

As discussed in our prior blog post on the general telemedicine rules, we look to the Medical Board’s rules on Unprofessional Conduct, among other rules, to decipher what is allowed in Georgia.  Rule 360-3-.02 defines Unprofessional Conduct to include subsection (5), which provides that Unprofessional Conduct could include: “Prescribing controlled substances . . . and/or dangerous drugs . . . for a patient based solely on a consultation via electronic means with the patient, patient’s guardian or patient’s agent.”  As such, the general rule prohibits prescribing controlled substances via a telemedicine consult.  However, the rule does “not prohibit a licensee from prescribing a dangerous drug for a patient pursuant to a valid physician patient relationship in accordance with O.C.G.A. § 33-24-56.4 or a licensee who is on-call or covering for another licensee from prescribing up to a 30-day supply of medications for a patient of such other licensee nor shall it prohibit a licensee from prescribing medications when documented emergency circumstances exist.”  Rule 360-3-.02(5).  There are other exceptions related to specific Schedule II controlled substances.

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As a healthcare and business law firm, we work with many employers and employees to navigate complex employment matters, oftentimes with an eye towards federal employment regulations. 021721125026-300x188 The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted employment in the United States.  Now that the Country is reopening and people are returning to work, a question on everyone’s mind is: “Can my employer require me to get the vaccine”?  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently released guidance answering that question.  This post intends to outline the EEOC’s position; it does not address the potential impact of state and local rules on this topic.  If you have questions regarding this blog post, employment matters, or EEOC rules and regulations, you may contact us at (404) 685-1662 (Atlanta) or (706) 722-7886 (Augusta), or by email, You may also learn more about our law firm by visiting

The EEOC Hearing

To assist in developing its guidance, on April 28, 2021, the EEOC held a hearing to discuss the impact of the pandemic on workplace civil rights.  During the hearing, the EEOC heard from experts in economics, policy, disability rights, and many more.  The hearing transcript and audio is available here.  It may be important going forward to consider that the EEOC hearing was held before the CDC issued new guidance on May 13th pertaining to fully vaccinated individuals.

As a healthcare and business law firm, we work with may healthcare providers and employers who wish to integrate telehealth into their business models and, understandably, have questions.  4-300x169What is telehealth versus telemedicine?  What laws and rules govern the practice of telemedicine?  Has COVID-19 impacted telemedicine?  Etc.  This post intends to outline some of the rules and laws relevant to practitioners, including the impact of HB 307 on telehealth in Georgia.  If you have questions regarding this blog post or telehealth, you may contact us at (404) 685-1662 (Atlanta) or (706) 722-7886 (Augusta), or by email,

As an initial matter, telehealth and telemedicine are distinct terms.  Telemedicine is a subset of telehealth.  The definitions of both are found within Georgia’s insurance code.   Telehealth is defined as “the use of information and communications technologies, including, but not limited to, telephones, remote patient monitoring devices or other electronic means which support clinical health care, provider consultation, patient and professional health related education, public health, and health administration.”  O.C.G.A. § 33-24-56.4(b)(6).  “Telemedicine” is defined as:

[A] form of telehealth which is the delivery of clinical health care services by means of real time two-way audio, visual, or other telecommunications or electronic communications, including the application of secure video conferencing or store and forward transfer technology to provide or support health care delivery, which facilitate the assessment, diagnosis, consultation, treatment, education, care management, and self-management of a patient’s health care by a health care provider practicing within his or her scope of practice as would be practiced in-person with a patient, and legally allowed to practice in this state, while such patient is at an originating site and the health care provider is at a distant site.

As a healthcare and business law firm, we assist many clinical laboratories in compliance and regulatory matters, and because of COVID-19, Georgia has seen a rise in the number of clinical lab-testing-adobe-stock-300x200laboratories.  A compliance question faced by many of our clients, particularly those who conduct COVID-19 testing, is how to properly maintain and share patient records.  Herein, we note some of the rules around retaining and sharing patient records under Georgia law for clinical laboratories.

Record Retention

Georgia Code, Title 31, Chapter 22 provides rules for Clinical Laboratories.  For entities that meet the definition of “clinical laboratory,” section 31-22-4(f) provides that “[r]ecords involving clinical laboratory services and copies of reports of laboratory tests shall be kept for the period of time and in the manner prescribed by the department.”  The department refers to the Georgia Department of Community Health (“DCH”).  DCH’s rules require reports of “all clinical laboratory services, including records of laboratory test requests and reports” to be retained for at least two (2) years for general laboratory records and quality control records, at least five (5) years for records of immunohematology and cytology, and at least ten (10) years for surgical pathology records.  Rule 111-8-10-.26.

Last week, we posted Part 1 of this blog series.  Therein, you will find a discussion of employment discrimination laws that are potentially triggered when an employee requests to telework for tixeo-virtual-openspace-300x202health, safety, or disability reasons.  In Part 2, we examine how the state of businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic impacts the discussion of whether telework is a reasonable accommodation.

For many years, employers have asserted that regular attendance at the job site is an essential job function, and employers have often been successful with this argument and, consequently, avoided providing telework as a reasonable accommodation.  See, e.g., EEOC v. Ford Motor Co., 782 F.3d 753, 775 (6th Cir. 2015) (collecting cases).  Prior guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) stated that considerations as to whether telework is a reasonable accommodation “include whether there is a need for face-to-face interaction and coordination of work with other employees; whether in-person interaction with outside colleagues, clients or customers is necessary; and whether the position in question requires the employee to have immediate access to documents or other information located only in the workplace.”  Work at Home/Telework as a Reasonable Accommodation, EEOC Guidance (Feb. 3, 2003).  Because of the spread of COVID-19, many businesses have now operated on a telework model and done so successfully.  In fact, the Brookings Institute suggests up to half of American workers were working from home in April of this year.  Telecommuting Will Likely Continue Long After the Pandemic, Brookings Institute (Apr. 6, 2020).  Now that teleworking has been widely, and often effectively, used, the conversation around teleworking as a reasonable accommodation has evolved.

In September, the EEOC offered its guidance on the subject.  What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws, EEOC (Sept. 8, 2020).  Therein, the EEOC recognized, “There may be reasonable accommodations that could offer protection to an individual whose disability puts him at greater risk from COVID-19.”  Id. § D.1.  An employer, however, is not automatically required to grant telework as a reasonable accommodation simply because the employee was allowed to telework for the purpose of slowing the spread of COVID-19.  In sum, “[i]f there is no disability-related limitation that requires teleworking, then the employer does not have to provide telework as an accommodation.”  Id. § D.15.  If the employee has such a limitation and teleworking is a reasonable accommodation, the employer must show telework imposes an undue hardship.

As mandatory work-from-home restrictions related to COVID-19 relax, many employees have asked to continue working remotely to protect themselves and their families. Understandably, manycsm_FlatDesign-Telework_c532b56131-300x196 employers are unsure how to respond to such requests on both a practical and legal level.  This two-part series addresses some legal considerations for employers and employees regarding teleworking as a way to minimize health risks posed by COVID-19 for individuals with disabilities.  In Part 1, herein, we provide an overview of the reasonable accommodation laws protecting an employee with a disability.

Whether an employer is required to allow an employee to telework to accommodate a disability triggers the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Both Acts prohibit employers from discriminating against an otherwise qualified individual with a disability.  42 U.S.C. § 12112(a); 29 U.S.C. § 794(a).  Discrimination includes failing to reasonably accommodate an employee with a disability.  42 U.S.C. § 12112(b)(5).

Qualified Individual with a Disability

As Georgia schools and other businesses respond to open and operate safely in the face of the COVID-19 Pandemic, many are posting warning signs consistent with a new law in the state passed to protect them from liability.

Georgia-based Business and Healthcare Law Firm

This summer, Georgia joined many other states in passing a law to protect businesses including healthcare facilities and workers from liability from lawsuits brought by individuals or their survivors related to infections from or exposure to COVID-19 in visiting the premises of or obtaining healthcare services or personal protective equipment from those facilities, entities or individuals.  Senate Bill 359, signed by the Governor on August 5, 2020 provides that no healthcare facility or provider, entity or individual shall be liable for damages in an action involving a “COVID-19 liability claim” unless the claimant proves the actions of the healthcare facility, entity or individual resulted from gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, reckless or intentional infliction of harm.

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