The Alabama Pain Management Act, which regulates the practice of pain management by physicians, was signed into law on May 8, 2013. To assist in preventing diversion, abuse and misuse of controlled substances, and to administer and enforce the Alabama Pain Management Act, the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners (the “Board”) recently adopted standards for pain management services which become effective December 19, 2013.
Pain Management Registration Required. Beginning January 1, 2014, and continuing every year thereafter, all physicians who provide pain management services (as defined by the Board) must obtain a pain management registration from the Board. The deadline for initial registration for 2014 is February 15, 2014. In subsequent years, renewal will occur during the same period as medical license renewals (October through December), and annual registrations will expire December 31 of each year.
Pain Management Services Defined. Pain management services are those medical services that involve the prescription of controlled substances in order to treat chronic non-malignant pain by a physician who treats pain. The Board defines the provision of pain management services as:
- A physician practice which advertises or holds itself out to the public as a provider of pain management services; OR
- A physician practice which dispenses opioids; OR
- A physician practice with greater than 50% being provided pain management; OR
- A physician practice in which any of the providers of pain management services are rated in the top 10% of practitioners who prescribe controlled substances in Alabama, as determined by the Alabama Prescription Drug Monitoring Database on an annual basis.
Requirements for the Provision of Pain Management Services. In addition to annual registration, the Board’s standards for Pain Management Services also require the following:
- Pain Management Services must be provided at a location owned and operated by 1) one or more physicians licensed in Alabama; 2) a business entity registered with the Alabama Secretary of State; or 3) a government entity or body, or political subdivision, including state universities and schools.
- Each Pain Management practice must be under the direction of a medical director who is a physician with a current, unrestricted Alabama medical license. Each medical director must meet certain training and on site requirements.
- Every registrant is required to register with the Alabama Department of Public Health’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.
In addition, the Board specifies certain requirements and guidelines for physicians using controlled substances for the treatment of pain.
Information Required for Registration. The Board requires the following information for pain management services registration:
- A completed application
- Proof of a current Drug Enforcement Administration registration
- Proof of an Alabama Controlled Substance Certificate
- Proof of a current registration with the Alabama Prescription Drug Monitoring Program
- Results of a criminal background check ($65.00)
- Disclosure of any controlled substances certificate or registration denial, restriction or discipline imposed on the registrant, or any disciplinary act against any medical license of the registrant
- Payment of the initial registration fee ($100.00)
- Certification listing the current name of the physician who serves as the medical director
- Physical address of each location where pain management services are provided
- List of all physicians who work at the practice location, including the name of the physician who will serve as the medical director
The Application for Alabama Pain Management Registration plus instructions can be found on the Board’s web site.