Our healthcare and business law firm previously published a blog post on the federal telemedicine rules and the general Georgia 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 Georgia’s telemedicine rules. This post focuses specifically on Georgia’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, firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also learn more about our law firm by visiting www.hamillittle.com.
Georgia Telemedicine Rules for Prescribing
The general restrictions on prescribing via telemedicine is with (a) pain management and (b) controlled substances. As such, if the requirements to allow telemedicine are met, the provider can prescribe any medically necessary medications therefrom. The restrictions come into play if those medications are controlled substances.
Prescribing Controlled Substances via Telemedicine
- General Rule
Georgia Rule 360-3-.02 defines Unprofessional Conduct to 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).
- State of Emergency Exceptions
As is clear, the rules in Georgia are limiting when it comes to controlled substances. The State of Emergency caused by COVID-19, however, impacts these rules. Specifically, the Georgia Medical Board adopted Emergency Rule 360-3-0.13-8 effective July 19, 2021, “Practice Through Electronic or Other Such Means During a State of Emergency.” In relevant part, the Emergency Rule impacts a Georgia provider’s ability to prescribe via telemedicine during the State of Emergency by providing as follows:
(1) DEA registered practitioners may issue prescriptions during the State of Emergency for Continued COVID-19 Economic Recovery, as declared by the Governor of the State of Georgia, for controlled substances to patients for whom they have not conducted an in-person medical evaluation, provided all of the following conditions are met:
(A) The prescription is issued for a legitimate medical purpose by a practitioner acting in the usual course of his/her professional practice;
(B) The practitioner conducted a medical evaluation on the patient using telemedicine communication;
(C) The telemedicine communication is conducted using an audio-visual or audio only, real time, two-way interactive communication system; and
(D) The practitioner is acting within Federal and State law and otherwise following the provisions of Board Rule 360-3-.07.
- Pain Management Prescriptions Prohibited
Rule 360-3-.07, which allows telemedicine services in Georgia, “does not authorize the prescription of controlled substances for the treatment of pain or chronic pain by electronic or other such means. All treatment of pain or chronic pain must be in compliance with Rule 360-3-.06.”
As is clear from the above, medical practices must be thoughtful before prescribing from telemedicine visits. 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.
*Disclaimer: Thoughts shared here do not constitute legal advice.