Friday, December 20, 2013

Alabama Pain Management Act

By: Ty Thomas, MD
It’s here.  House Bill 151 was passed by the House of Representatives April 9, 2013 and the Senate May 2, 2013.  The bill was then quickly signed by Governor Bentley on May 8, 2013.  Officially, the bill will begin implementation January 1st, 2014.  HB 151 is a 17 page bill which sets the framework for the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners to develop rules and regulations regarding pain management.

The intent of this bill is to address the problem of “diversion, abuse, and misuse of prescription medications classified as controlled substances under the Alabama Uniform Controlled Substances Act.”  The first steps outlined in this bill to accomplish its intent is to “require registration of all physicians providing pain management services and to regulate these registrants.”  Pain management services are defined as “those services that involve the prescription of controlled substances in order to treat chronic nonmalignant pain.”    Registration involves a detailed application which includes listing of all other registrants, owners, co-owners, and operators at each practice location.  In addition, a thorough clinical and criminal background check including finger print submission is required.  All costs, in addition to the application fee which is $300, associated with the registration process (i.e., background checks, finger print sets) are borne by the applicant. 

Each location must have a qualified Medical Director.  There are many listed requirements on pages 12 and 13. 

If the Board finds “danger to the public which requires emergency suspension of a registration, it may proceed without hearing effective immediately.”    However, this suspension is to last no more than 120 days during which a formal suspension or proceeding will take place.  The Board may investigate “on its own motion or in response to a written complaint.”  Currently, this isn’t any different to what happens today.  The difference is the fines imposed for failing to register, which are pretty steep, at $10,000 per violation. 

The rules have not yet been publically released by the Board.  The rules will be published for public comment before they are finalized. 

Bottom line:  If you prescribe controlled medications to the chronic pain patient, you need to declare yourself and register.  If you are like most and provide controlled medications for acute pain, then you are not affected by this legislation. 

Alabama Pain Physicians 

1 comment:

  1. Hi, love to comment. I have a terrible neck and back,with squeezed nerves in both,i have been told I can't have surgery,so the main thing that helps me live with my pain, will be pain meds.I live in Anniston and need to drive to B'Ham which is just about unbearable,but none of the Doctors up here won't or can not treat me,and when I do get my prescription,i experience difficulty filling it.These new law don't hurt the medication addict,but they really hurt those that are in horrible pain.I genuinely think these officials need to crush us,for what number of will submit sucide,because they can't live with the pain. thanks~ Nadia B.