GCMB passes emergency prescribing rule

The Georgia Composite Medical Board distributed the following announcement on March 18…

In response to the State of Emergency that has been declared by the federal and Georgia legislatures, the Georgia Composite Medical Board encourages licensed prescribers to follow CDC guidelines in leveraging telemedicine technologies in order to protect patients and the health care workforce. In general, prescribers should adhere to the state rule on ‘Practice Through Electronic or Other Such Means’ as amended at the March 5, 2020 meeting

On January 31, 2020 the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services issued an emergency declaration allowing DEA registered practitioners to issue prescriptions during a public health emergency for controlled substances to patients for whom they have not conducted an in-person medical evaluation, provided all of the following conditions are met…

– The prescription is issued for a legitimate medical purpose by a practitioner acting in the usual course of his/her professional practice

– The telemedicine communication is conducted using an audio-visual, real time, two-way interactive communication system

– The practitioner is acting with federal and state law

Today [GCMB] passed an emergency rule change that allows licensed prescribers to follow the HHS guidelines referenced above. Provided the practitioner satisfies these requirements, the practitioner may issue the prescription using any of the methods of prescribing currently available and in the manner set forth in the DEA regulations. Thus, the practitioner may issue a prescription either electronically (for schedules II-V) or by calling in an emergency schedule II prescription to the pharmacy, or by calling in a schedule III-V prescription to the pharmacy. 

On March 17, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that physicians may use Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts video, or Skype to provide telehealth services “without risk that [its Office for Civil Rights] might seek to impose a penalty for noncompliance with the HIPAA Rules related to the good faith provision of telehealth during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.” 

HHS is also stressing that public-facing applications like Facebook Live, Twitch, TikTok and similar video communication applications should not be used to provide telehealth services. 

HHS explains that, “Covered health care providers that seek additional privacy protections for telehealth while using video communication products should provide such services through technology vendors that are HIPAA-compliant and will enter into HIPAA business associate agreements (BAAs) in connection with the provision of their video communication products.” 

The following vendors have indicated that they offer HIPAA-compliant video communications products and will enter into HIPAA BAAs…

– Skype for Business
– Updox
– VSee
– Zoom for Healthcare
– Doxy.me
– Google G Suite Hangouts Meet

[GCMB] is now issuing emergency practice permits. During an event for which the governor of the State of Georgia has issued an executive order declaring a disaster or a state of emergency, [GCMB] may waive some of the licensure requirements in order to permit the provision of emergency health services to the public. Before practicing medicine in Georgia under this provision, the applicant must receive the Board’s approval of the following…

1. an application for the emergency permit;

2. proof of current and unrestricted license in another state;

3. a current National Practitioner’s Data bank (NPDB) report;

4. a copy of a government issued photo ID

    All permits issued under this provision are valid for 90 days or until the statement of emergency or disaster has been lifted by the governor of the State of Georgia, whichever comes first. Applications for emergency practice permits can be accessed at https://medicalboard.georgia.gov/press-releases/2020-03-16/gcmb-emergency-practice-permittemp-license-response-covid-19.

    The COVID-19 crisis and governmental response is evolving rapidly. [GCMB] will continue to work diligently in providing updates on regulations to ensure health care services can be provided effectively, safely and appropriately to the citizens of our state in a timely manner.