Update to California Legislation Part I: New Requirements for Licensed Healthcare Professionals

At the end of the 2021-22 legislature, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed health care legislation that addresses issues ranging from health care cost management to reproductive rights. In Part I of our Legislative Update, we summarize many of the laws relevant to licensed healthcare professionals.

Doctors & Surgeons

AB 1278: Physicians and surgeons licensed in California or their employers are required to notify patients through the Open Patients Database

Beginning January 1, 2023, California-licensed physicians and surgeons, or their employers, are required to provide each patient with a written or electronic submission from the Open Payments database (a federal tool used to look up payments made by drug and device manufacturers to physicians and teaching hospitals) and keep the notice in the patient’s medical record. The written notification must include a signature of the patient or patient representative and the date of signature. In addition, physicians are required to post a notice of the Open Payments database at each location where they practice, in an area where they are likely to be seen by anyone entering the location. From January 1, 2024, if a medical practice maintains an internet website, the website must contain a reference to the Open Payments database. Physicians and surgeons who do not comply with the new law can be penalized by their respective licensing boards for unprofessional conduct. For more details on the requirements of the new law, see our recent post here.

AB 1954: Physicians and surgeons may not automatically deny treatment to qualified patients based solely on a positive drug screen for tetrahydrocannabinol THC

Effective January 1, 2023, physicians are prohibited from automatically denying a “qualified patient” under California’s Compassionate Use Act any treatment or medication based solely on a positive drug screen for THC or a report of medical cannabis use, without first obtaining a Conduct an individual assessment Patient assessment, which includes a determination that the qualifying patient’s use of medicinal cannabis for the treatment or medication is “medically significant.” Use of medicinal cannabis recommended by a licensed physician does not constitute use of an illegal substance for the purposes of such assessment. Physicians will not be penalized or denied any rights or privileges for administering any treatment or medication in the Administered in accordance with the new law and in accordance with the standard of care.

AB-2098: Spreading misinformation by a doctor or surgeon related to COVID-19 is unprofessional conduct

Effective January 1, 2023, the dissemination of misinformation or disinformation related to COVID-19, including false or misleading information about the nature and risks of the virus, its prevention and treatment, and the development, safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines by doctors is unprofessional behavior.


SB 1375: Nurses and midwives may perform first trimester abortions after completing the required training

Effective January 1, 2023, nurses and midwives who have completed specific training are authorized to perform an abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy by aspiration techniques according to standardized protocols under the supervision of a physician or independently if the nurse has met the requirements for independence practice in California. The bill requires a nurse to practice abortion through aspiration techniques that conforms to applicable standards of care and is within the scope of the nurse’s clinical and professional education and training.


AB 2754: Registered psychological workers may be monitored via synchronous audiovisual means

Effective immediately, AB 2754 permits real-time supervision, defined as in-person or synchronous by audio-visual means, of an applicant for a license to practice medicine and a registered mental health worker, in accordance with federal and state patient confidentiality laws.


AB 2574: Optometrists can use tests performed in CLIA-exempt laboratories and administer specific immunizations

Effective January 1, 2023, the new law clarifies and expands the scope of optometry, among other things, by allowing optometrists to use laboratory tests or examinations performed in a laboratory with an exemption certificate; and administer various vaccinations, including COVID-19 vaccinations, when certain requirements are met.


SB 1259: Pharmacists may supply FDA-approved opioid antagonists

Effective January 1, 2023, pharmacists who have completed the required training are authorized to provide a Federal Food and Drug Administration-approved opioid antagonist (in lieu of just naloxone hydrochloride) according to standardized procedures or protocols developed by both the California State Board and Also approved by Pharmacy and the Medical Board of California, in consultation with the California Society of Addiction Medicine, the California Pharmacists Association and other appropriate entities.

AB 852: Physicians must follow new rules for e-prescriptions

Effective January 1, 2023, a pharmacy, pharmacist, or other physician authorized to issue or write a prescription is prohibited from refusing to issue or write an electronic prescription solely because the prescription was not submitted through their proprietary software or is not compatible with their proprietary software. However, a pharmacy, pharmacist, or other licensed physician may refuse to issue or provide an electronic prescription submitted through software that fails to meet any of the established criteria, including compliance with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996

The new law also adds the following exceptions to the requirement that prescriptions be issued as electronic data transmission prescriptions:

  • Prescriptions issued by a prescribing physician who volunteers at a free clinic and receives no compensation for his services; and
  • A prescribing physician who has registered with the California State Board of Pharmacy in a manner and format determined by the Board and indicates that they are in the area of ​​a declared disaster or emergency; issue 100 or fewer prescriptions per year; or, due to circumstances for which they are not responsible, are unable to issue regulations on electronic data transmission.

In addition, the new law provides the following exceptions to the obligation for a pharmacy to immediately forward an electronic prescription to an alternative pharmacy at the patient’s request:

  • The action would result in a violation of a state or federal law; and
  • The measure is not supported by the latest version of the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs SCRIPT standard.

If a pharmacy is prohibited from transmitting or forwarding prescriptions for electronic data transmission and this prohibition is subsequently lifted, that pharmacy must take the necessary precautions within one year after the ban is lifted to allow the transmission or forwarding of a prescription electronic data transmission .

Stay tuned for the next installment of our blog series on California Legislative Updates for the 2021-22 Legislature!

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