Texas Officials Target Doctors Providing Online Consultations, Prescriptions
The Texas State Board of Pharmacy last week adopted a policy prohibiting pharmacists from dispensing medications if they "kno[w] or should have known that the prescription was issued based on an Internet or telephonic consultation without a valid patient-practitioner relationship," the AP/Dallas Morning News reports. The move is part of an effort by Texas officials to regulate doctors who consult with patients "solely via the Internet and telephone." State lawmakers also have approved a measure containing "similar language," and the bill is awaiting approval by Gov. Rick Perry (R). The Texas State Board of Medical Examiners considers remote consultations an "improper medical practice." According to the board's Internet prescribing policy, which was adopted in December 1999, "It is unprofessional conduct for a physician to initially prescribe any dangerous drugs or controlled substances without first establishing a proper physician-patient relationship." The policy states that a "proper" relationship would require, "at a minimum, verifying a patient's identity, obtaining a patient's medical history and ensuring access to follow-up care." Critics say that remote consultations pose a health threat because the physician does not have a patient's complete medical history and cannot perform tests to make a diagnosis. Tom Kelley, spokesperson for the state attorney general's office, said that doctors who perform such consultations are "making prescription medicine available to consumers without really knowing anything about the consumers." He added, "It's a violation of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act and it's a public danger situation." To date, only three Texas physicians have been disciplined by the board of medical examiners for violating online prescription policies (AP/Dallas Morning News, 6/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.