Compliance Considerations: Expanding ARNP and PA Scope Of Practice = Good Time to Review Drug Policies and Procedures

by Stephen Siegel

May, 2016

The following article was published in the South Florida Hospital and Healthcare Association's insert in the South Florida Hospital & Healthcare News.

During its recent session, the Florida Legislature enacted and the Governor signed the Barbara Lumpkin Prescribing Act, HB 423 (the "Act"). The Act authorizes ARNPs and PAs to prescribe and dispense Schedule II, Schedule III, and Schedule IV drugs. Setting aside the clinical impact that will result from these healthcare professionals having this authority, the implementation of the Act should provide a reminder for hospitals, medical practices and other healthcare providers that dispense controlled substances to review their policies and procedures and make sure that there has not been any unaccounted for dispensing of these drugs.

ARNPs and PAs who engage in prescribing and dispensing controlled substances will be subject to the same requirements as physicians. They will need to be licensed to engage in these activities. They also will be required to complete a patient's medical history and physical examination and document it in his or her medical history, along with justification for prescribing a controlled substance. In addition, these healthcare professionals will be expected to see a patient on a regular basis for whom a controlled substance prescription is issued.

In addition to the documentation in a patient's medical record, physicians, hospitals and healthcare practitioners who dispense controlled substances will need to ensure that the drugs are stored in the appropriate environment that is not accessible to unauthorized parties. They also need to regularly take an inventory of these drugs in order to prevent any of them from being dispensed without appropriate authorization.

The Department of Health, AHCA, the Drug Enforcement Agency, as well as the other agencies that regulate the healthcare industry are all aware that the more people who have access to prescribed drugs, the greater the likelihood that some of those drugs will be misdirected. Every hospital, physician practice and other healthcare provider that dispenses controlled substances needs to understand that, from the government's perspective, they are responsible for any errors or wrongdoing on the part of their staff.