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Telehealth services and medical malpractice issues in Arizona

In April 2018, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill into law that expanded insurance coverage to include telehealth services such as remote patient monitoring. Almost all large employers offer these services to their workers when they are available, but eliminating face-to-face meetings with doctors has raised concerns among doctors and medical malpractice insurers. Research suggests that using algorithms to scrutinize patient data and diagnose medical conditions reduces mistakes and improves outcomes, but the technology and the patient being diagnosed are often in different states.

This raises thorny legal issues as patients who wish to file medical malpractice lawsuits are often required to do so in the states where they live. This means that physicians and their insurers could face litigation in faraway venues where they are not licensed to practice medicine. The most common type of malpractice lawsuit arising from telehealth services are cases involving doctors who prescribed medications without first examining the patient in person.

The Arizona Pharmacist's Right to Refuse to Participate in Care

In Arizona, state law says that a pharmacist doesn't have to fill a prescription for medication that can help with an abortion or a similar procedure. Furthermore, an individual cannot have a professional license revoked if he or she acts in accordance with a religious belief. According to the Arizona State Board of Pharmacy, denying medication is not considered to be unprofessional conduct, which is why it cannot be grounds for losing a license.

Pharmacists should inquire with their employer about specific company policies related to any staff members moral or religious beliefs that may be applicable to certain medical or pharmaceutical therapies.  The right to freely practice religion is guaranteed in the United States Constitution, but that right only restricts government entities from imposing its will on the practice of religion.

Contact our office if you are a pharmacist with questions about your rights and potential consequences when refusing to dispense a medication.

Key issues when buying or selling a pharmacy

Pharmacists in Arizona have unique concerns when they want to buy or sell a business. Because the pharmacy industry is so heavily regulated, there are concerns that apply to pharmacy sales that do not apply to other types of entrepreneurs and small business owners. While well-versed in the regulations and norms of their profession, many pharmacists may be uncertain about how they can best protect themselves legally when going into business. If you are considering buying or selling a pharmacy, you may want to learn more about the legal issues that can accompany the transaction.

In order to buy or sell a pharmacy, you must have a valid, current license that is up to date in Arizona. The process of transferring a pharmacy can be complex because it also involves performing a full inventory of the products in stock. In many cases, this can include a substantial amount of controlled substances, which have their own requirements for handling and transfer. In addition, confidential patient records that must be protected will also be transferred when a pharmacy is bought and sold.

Kansas State Board of Pharmacy & IJCP On Compounding with CBD

The June 2019 Edition of the Kansas State Board of Pharmacy Newsletter reprinted an article written by compounding expert Loyd Allen, Jr., PhD, RPh in the International Journal of Pharmaceutical Compounding (IJCP, Vol. 23, No. 2).

The original Kansas BOP and IJCP article describe the requirements pharmacists should follow if compounding with cannabidiol (CBD).

Three essential things to do if accused of medical malpractice

Facing an accusation of medical malpractice is both frightening and overwhelming. It often comes out of nowhere and puts everything medical professionals have built at risk, including their reputation. Such an accusation is something that no medical professional wants to endure in their career--much less their lifetime. 

However, it is critical for any medical professional to remember that an accusation is not the end of the road. There are measures medical professionals can take to protect themselves and their licenses.

Court says man can sue for pharmacist's joke

The Arizona Court of Appeals has decided that a national chain of pharmacies can face a lawsuit after one of its pharmacists joked with a man's ex-wife about a prescription for erectile dysfunction drugs. The lawsuit was dismissed by the trial court and the man's attorney appealed; the Court of Appeals brought parts of the lawsuit back. The lawsuit is set to continue on allegations of negligence under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, a federal healthcare privacy law.

The case is noteworthy because it represents the first time it has been decided that Arizona state courts can hear HIPAA negligence claims. According to the ruling, a man in his 50s got a sample of an erectile dysfunction pill in 2016 and later got a call from the national pharmacy chain saying that a full prescription of the drug was ready to be picked up. The man canceled the prescription. He canceled it again approximately one month later when he called the pharmacy to check on an unrelated prescription.

3 trends to track in Arizona pharmacy

The world of pharmacy is rapidly changing. Independent pharmacists who want to stay competitive need to position themselves one step ahead of the pack.

In many cases, this can mean developing new business strategies. Reshaping your role in the larger health care picture may help you win new market space and greater customer loyalty. Of course, it’s vital to base your plans on a solid understanding of industry trends. Here are just a few to consider:

Rhode Island pharmacy fined for fraudulent prescriptions

The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), agreed to accept a fine from a national drug store chain due to filling fake prescriptions in Rhode Island. The fine came without an admission of liability from the company and amounted to over one half million dollars. The settlement does not disclose whether any pharmacies Arizona were involved. The pharmacy is headquartered in Rhode Island.

The fine comes from an investigation that showed the pharmacy had filled 39 separate prescriptions for Percocet. Fake or doctored prescriptions have become more common in recent years.

Less than 40% of prescribers complying with new prescription law

The state of Arizona has a law on the books that requires doctors to check a statewide database before they prescribe opioids or other controlled substances to patients. According to a report by the Arizona Department of Health Services, in December 2018, eight months after the law took effect, only 38% of doctors checked the database at least one time per month prior to prescribing a controlled substance. Part of the problem may be that there is little oversight.

An assistant director with the ADHS said it was primarily the responsibility of the physicians licensing boards, and the issue will not raise the attention of a medical board unless there is a complaint or other problem. The Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program was launched in 2009, but there was no effective law requiring doctors to use it until April 2018. The ADHS assistant director said the agency was aware of the low use rate but added that Arizona has made progress against the opioid epidemic in other ways.

Understanding the top 4 fraud and abuse laws

As a newly licensed pharmacist, you're ready to face the world, meet patients and help them on their paths to better health. You're also a shiny new target for pharmaceutical manufacturer representatives and others who value your ability to write prescriptions and make referrals.

It's no secret that some people in the health care industry have used shady methods to get doctors on their sides. To make sure you don't get drawn into any illegal activities, you should familiarize yourself with the health care industry's top four Federal fraud and abuse laws.

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