Effective March 7, 2016, the Board of Medicine’s revised Telemedicine Rule, Rule 64B8-9.0141, F.A.C., goes into effect. The amended rule reads:
(1) “Telemedicine” means the practice of medicine by a licensed Florida physician or physician assistant where patient care, treatment, or services are provided through the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications. Telemedicine shall not include the provision of health care services only through an audio only telephone, email messages, text messages, facsimile transmission, U.S. Mail or other parcel service, or any combination thereof.
(2) The standard of care, as defined in Section 456.50(1)(e), F.S., shall remain the same regardless of whether a Florida licensed physician or physician assistant provides health care services in person or by telemedicine.
(3) Florida licensed physicians and physician assistants providing health care services by telemedicine are responsible for the quality of the equipment and technology employed and are responsible for their safe use. Telemedicine equipment and technology must be able to provide, at a minimum, the same information to the physician and physician assistant which will enable them to meet or exceed the prevailing standard of care for the practice of medicine.
(4) Controlled substances shall not be prescribed through the use of telemedicine except for the treatment of psychiatric disorders. This provision does not preclude physicians from ordering controlled substances through the use of telemedicine for patients hospitalized in a facility licensed pursuant to Chapter 395, F.S.
(5) Prescribing medications based solely on an electronic medical questionnaire constitutes the failure to practice medicine with that level of care, skill, and treatment which is recognized by reasonably prudent physicians as being acceptable under similar conditions and circumstances, as well as prescribing legend drugs other than in the course of a physician’s professional practice.
(6) Physicians and physician assistants shall not provide treatment recommendations, including issuing a prescription, via electronic or other means, unless the following elements have been met:
(a) A documented patient evaluation, including history and physical examination to establish the diagnosis for which any legend drug is prescribed.
(b) Discussion between the physician or the physician assistant and the patient regarding treatment options and the risks and benefits of treatment.
(c) Maintenance of contemporaneous medical records meeting the requirements of Rule 64B8-9.003, F.A.C.
(7) The practice of medicine by telemedicine does not alter any obligation of the physician or the physician assistant regarding patient confidentiality or recordkeeping.
(8) A physician-patient relationship may be established through telemedicine.
(9)(a) Nothing contained in this rule shall prohibit consultations between physicians or the transmission and review of digital images, pathology specimens, test results, or other medical data by physicians or other qualified providers related to the care of Florida patients.
(b) This rule does not apply to emergency medical services provided by emergency physicians, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), paramedics, and emergency dispatchers. Emergency medical services are those activities or services to prevent or treat a sudden critical illness or injury and to provide emergency medical care and prehospital emergency medical transportation to sick, injured, or otherwise incapacitated persons in this state.
(c) The provisions of this rule shall not apply where a physician or physician assistant is treating a patient with an emergency medical condition that requires immediate medical care. An emergency medical condition is a medical condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity that the absence of immediate medical attention will result in serious jeopardy to patient health, serious impairment to bodily functions, or serious dysfunction of a body organ or part.
(d) The provisions of this rule shall not be construed to prohibit patient care in consultation with another physician who has an ongoing relationship with the patient, and who has agreed to supervise the patient’s treatment, including the use of any prescribed medications, nor on-call or cross-coverage situations in which the physician has access to patient records.
Rulemaking Authority 458.331(1)(v) FS. Law Implemented 458.331(1)(v) FS. History‒New 3-12-14, Amended 7-22-14, 10-26-14.