The Latest State Orders & Clinical Regulatory Changes
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve rapidly in Ohio and across the country. First, let me say thank you to all the physicians and staff that are either on the front line or trying to see patients to provide needed care and working to keep practices open. We are here to help you in whatever way we can. Below is a quick overview of the latest information for Ohio physicians and upcoming issues.
Stay at Home Order
Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton, MD, on Sunday issued a ‘Stay At Home’ order, mandating that Ohioans self-quarantine for the next two weeks as state leaders continue efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The order calls for all non-essential business to cease, unless operations are able to be completed with employees working from home. Non-essential travel is also banned.
‘Essential Activities’ are exempted. Activities that are still allowed while continuing to exercise social distancing – staying six-feet from another person include for health or safety reasons, grocery shopping, and outdoor recreation, such as, walking, biking, and jogging. Public parks will remain open but playgrounds are closed.
The order also allows people employed in more than 20 essential fields to leave their homes for work. Essential businesses include grocery stores, healthcare and medical settings, media, gas stations, restaurants (pickup and delivery only), transportation, and banks.
The order is in effect until Monday, April 6. An FAQ is available for those with questions.
Pharmacy Board Emergency Rule on Prescribing Chloroquine or Hydroxychloroquine
Given the discussion of potential treatments for COVID-19 that have led to recent shortages and reports of noncompliant prescribing, Ohio’s pharmacy board, in an emergency meeting Sunday morning, passed a new rule barring pharmacists from dispensing chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 unless a person has tested positive for the virus or is otherwise approved by the pharmacy board’s executive director. In order to get either drug, the patient must have their positive test disclosed by the doctor on the prescription request. The prescription must be limited to a 14-day supply, and no refills are permitted without a new written prescription.
To not disrupt patient access that requires these drugs for other conditions, any prescription issued prior to 3/22/2020, including refills, may be dispensed without a documented diagnosis code. Any new prescriptions must have a diagnosis code, including those issued verbally. For new prescriptions issued on or after 3/22/2020 that do not have a diagnosis code, a pharmacist, pharmacy intern, or certified pharmacy technician must contact the prescriber to obtain the proper diagnosis code and document this information on the prescription or in the patient’s profile.
CME Requirement Enforcement
The State Medical Board of Ohio (SMBO) recently issued an order stating that the board will not take action against physicians who are unable to complete CME by their renewal date. The medical board is not waiving any CME requirements. Rather, they understand that it may be difficult for physicians to obtain CME during this time and they are not going to pursue action against physicians who do not complete CME on time. CME specific language from the order is below.
- Effective March 9, 2020 - March 1, 2021, SMBO will suspend enforcement of CE requirements for all license renewals, including physicians
- This does NOT include any existing board orders and consent agreements for individual licensees. Those remedial education expectations must be met.
- Licensees are reminded that this does not excuse the legal requirement for CE, the board is only suspending enforcement. Licensees who do not complete their required CE by the time of their renewal will indicate that on their license renewal and enforcement will not be taken.
We have heard from many of our members on the front lines of care that Ohio, like many states, is experiencing a critical shortage or personal protective equipment. We continue to work with the governor’s office and national authorities to increase our supplies. All options are being explored including both the public and private sector. We hope to have some updates later this week with more specific information.
Testing Supplies/Assessment Centers/Primary Care Guidance
Similar to PPE we have heard from numerous physicians about shortages of testing equipment, the difficulty in finding available testing sites to send patients and clarity in the assessment protocols. We are working with the Department of Health to address all of these issues and know information and resources are changing every day, including testing equipment and resources being offered by the private sector. As new and more detailed information becomes available to you we will post it on our website and communicate it out directly to you.
Thank you again for your commitment to the profession during these very challenging times. We are attempting to bring you information in a timely and relevant way as it becomes available. Right now, we are here to serve all physicians and their patients. If you have any questions or concerns, we want to hear from you. Please email me directly or give me a call at 614-527-6762.
Be well and be safe.