Important Legal Guidance Related to COVID-19 image

Distribution: All Providers
Copied: Entire Company
From: Laura Ashpole

Below please find important legal guidance on a few topics impacting your practice during the current COVID-19 outbreak.

Prescribing Controlled Substances Via Telemedicine

Today, the DEA published new guidance making clear that because the Secretary of Health and Human Services has declared COVID-19 a public health emergency, DEA-registered practitioners may issue controlled substance prescriptions to patients for whom they have not conducted an in-person medical evaluation, as long as the prescription is issued for a legitimate medical purpose in the usual course of professional practice by a practitioner engaged in treating the patient via telemedicine. This means that effective immediately you may prescribe clinically indicated Schedule II-V controlled substances to patients you see for an initial evaluation or follow-up visit via telemedicine, regardless of whether you’ve previously seen the patient in-person. As long as COVID-19 remains designated a public health emergency by the Secretary, this exception to the in-person medical evaluation requirement under the Ryan Haight Act applies.

Consent to Telemedicine

Per CA law, consent to telemedicine can be obtained verbally or in writing, as long as the patient’s practitioner documents that consent to telemedicine was obtained. This means that patients are not required to sign our Consent to Telemedicine form before being seen by you via telemedicine and can provide their verbal consent to telemedicine instead, as long as you document this in the patient’s chart.

HIPAA Confidentiality

As a health care provider, you are a mandated reporter of cases or suspected cases of certain diseases, including COVID-19. This means that in the event you learn that a patient of yours has tested positive for COVID-19, you are required by CA law to immediately report this information to the patient’s local health department by phone. In the event you are required to make such a report, please also be sure to complete an incident report form and submit to

If you have any questions regarding the above legal guidance or any other legal questions related to COVID-19, please call or email me directly.

Laura Ashpole, General Counsel

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