June 8, 2020
On June 5, 2020, the Texas Medical Board adopted an emergency rule to help health care professionals provide necessary medical services for chronic pain patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. The emergency rule went into effect on June 5, 2020 and will last for 30 days, or for the duration of Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s COVID-19 disaster declaration, whichever is shorter. Governor Abbott’s prior order temporarily suspending certain Texas regulations to allow telephonic refills of valid prescriptions for treatment of chronic pain by a physician with an established chronic pain patient was set to expire on June 5, 2020.
The treatment of chronic pain with scheduled drugs through telemedicine medical services is prohibited unless: (a) a physician determines that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, such telemedicine treatment is needed for an established chronic pain patient who seeks telephone refill of an existing prescription, or (b) the treatment is otherwise allowed under federal and state law. The treatment of acute pain with scheduled drugs through the use of telemedicine medical services is allowed, unless otherwise prohibited by federal and state law. In considering whether to utilize telemedicine medical services for the treatment of chronic pain with controlled substances, the physician should consider certain factors, including the date of the patient’s last in-person visit, the patient co-morbidities, and occupational-related COVID-19 risks. If a patient is treated for chronic pain with scheduled drugs through the use of telemedicine medical services, the patient’s medical record must indicate that exception and the reason that a telemedicine visit was conducted.