GCMB Reviews Internal Policy Regarding Handling of Sexual Misconduct and Boundary Violations

The Georgia Composite Medical Board has adopted a public statement regarding its handling of sexual misconduct and boundary violations. The Board announced last year that it would review how it handles such cases following a series of articles in the Atlanta Journal Constitution detailing incidences of sexual misconduct by physicians nationally.

The statement, issued June 9, 2017, notes that the Board began reviewing previous sexual misconduct/boundary violations cases in an effort to ensure it is “following its mission to protect the health of Georgians through the proper licensing of physicians and certain members of the healing arts and through objective enforcement of the Medical Practice Act.”

The statement goes on to say that the Board will utilize education, investigation and enforcement mechanisms — including educating physicians about the importance of reporting colleagues who may be committing boundary violations — in order to protect Georgia patients from physicians who use coercion or power for sex.

To view the statement, please visit https://medicalboard.georgia.gov/press-releases.

Source: Georgia Composite Medical Board news release, June 16, 2017

North Carolina Medical Board Collecting Data to Help Ensure Care among Underserved Populations

The North Carolina Medical Board (NCMB) has announced that it will collect National Provider Identifier (NPI) numbers, as well as information about sliding fee scale participation, for all primary care physicians and psychiatrists licensed by NCMB.

The Board is taking the action in response to a request by the North Carolina Office of Rural Health and Community Care, which uses NPI numbers to determine areas of the state that qualify as federal Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA). These areas of the state have shortages of primary care physicians, psychiatrists or dentists.

According to NCMB, the use of up-to-date NPI data will help ensure the state's continued participation in the federal National Health Service Corp (NHSC) loan repayment program, which awarded $5.6 million in loan repayments to physicians and other medical and dental professionals who provide care to underserved populations in the state.

NCMB will collect NPI numbers via its online annual renewal questionnaire.

Source: NCMB Forum, Spring 2017

Opioid Prescribing Declines Significantly in Ohio

The amount of opioids prescribed in Ohio declined in 2016, the fourth consecutive year the state has logged a decrease in such prescriptions.

According to a report compiled with data from the state's Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System, the total number of opioid doses dispensed to patients in Ohio declined by roughly 20% — from a high point of 793 million pills in 2012 to 631 million pills in 2016. The statistics were reported by the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy.

The state's opioid epidemic has been among the worst in the nation. A report from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation showed that Ohio led the United States in opioid overdose deaths in 2014. Ohio began a prescription-tracking system in 2006 to gather more accurate information on the prescribing of controlled substances. The system underwent a $15 million upgrade in 2015.

A state-wide partnership between state agencies, regulators, law enforcement and health care organizations in recent years has played a significant role in reducing opioid abuse in Ohio. Pharmacy Board officials report that between 2012 and 2016 the amount of people fraudulently seeking to inappropriately acquire opioids by “doctor shopping” declined by 78.2%.

Source: State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy news release, Jan. 25, 2017

Oregon Board Adopts Medical Marijuana Guidelines

The Oregon Medical Board has adopted new guidelines for attending physicians to help as they consider the use of medical marijuana for their patients. Oregon is one of many U.S. states which have in recent years significantly updated their laws governing the use of marijuana.

The guidelines, which were created by a workgroup of physicians from multiple specialties and a patient advocate, provide recommendations to physicians on the appropriate care of a patient diagnosed with one or more debilitating conditions for which the physician is recommending the medical use of marijuana. They address issues such as the concurrent use of marijuana and opioids, the treatment of pediatric patients, and appropriate treatment and follow-up plans.

Also included are a list of financial prohibitions intended to deter physicians from conflict of interest — ranging from holding an economic interest in an enterprise that provides or distributes medical marijuana to examining a patient for the purposes of diagnosis at a location where medical marijuana is sold or distributed. The guidelines neither encourage nor discourage acting as an attending physician for recommending the medical use of marijuana.

A key tenet of the guidelines is that a recommendation by a physician for the medical use of marijuana constitutes the practice of medicine and the physician must establish a bona-fide patient-physician relationship prior to recommending the medical use of marijuana to a patient.

The guidelines state that physicians in Oregon who recommend the medical use of marijuana should complete a minimum of three hours of category 1 Continuing Medical Education (CME) related to medical marijuana.

To learn more about the guidelines, titled “Guidelines for Attending Physicians when Recommending the Medical use of Marijuana,” please visit http://omb.oregon.gov/medical-marijuana.

Source: Oregon Medical Board Report, Spring 2017

PDMP Efforts in Pennsylvania Now Linked to Other States

Pennsylvania has joined a new effort to better track opioid-prescribing by linking its prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) with the drug monitoring programs of 10 other states and Washington, D.C.

Users of the Pennsylvania Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PA PDMP) can now see if their patients have filled controlled substance prescriptions in other states participating in the partnership — including Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Additionally, a one-way sharing connection has been established with Maryland, enabling its program users to search the PA PDMP.

According to Pennsylvania Department of Health officials, the partnership is particularly effective in helping curb “doctor shopping” — the practice in which patients inappropriately seek prescriptions from multiple health providers.

“This interstate sharing of patient data helps providers get a more complete picture of their patients' controlled substance histories, regardless of which state they filled their prescription in,” said Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Karen Murphy.

Source: State of Pennsylvania news release, June 29, 2017