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Heather Alleva, associate in the firm's Healthcare section, is quoted in a Part B News article, "Avoid emerging malpractice risks when getting into the telehealth game."

Heather R. Alleva, an associate with the law firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC in Philadelphia, says most of the telehealth legal questions she gets from provider clients are about prescriptions — not because they doubt their own ability to assess and prescribe, but because of confusion over PHE flexibilities.

Some prescribers may be misled by COVID-19-related flexibilities acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The DEA says at their coronavirus page that “prescription for a controlled substance issued by means of the Internet (including telemedicine) must generally be predicated on an in-person medical evaluation.”

Yet during the PHE, the agency also says, “DEA-registered practitioners in all areas of the United States may issue prescriptions for all schedule II-V controlled substances to patients for whom they have not conducted an in-person medical evaluation.”

However, conditions apply to that flexibility — including that the provider’s state laws do not conflict with it. “You have states that have separate requirements for prescriptions, usually controlled substances,” Alleva says. “Often they require first establishing a relationship with the patient in person. When it comes to substances that are more likely to be abused, authorities may also have ongoing requirements.”