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Important Information

from the State Medical Board of Ohio

SMBO Staffing Impact and COVID-19

In support of Governor DeWine’s initiative to limit the spread of COVID-19, the State Medical Board of Ohio staff are teleworking until further notice. We can best serve you via email. For inquiries pertaining to applying for a license, renewing a license, the status of a license application, or obtaining a license verification, please email license@med.ohio.gov. All other inquiries can be emailed to contact@med.ohio.gov. A staff member will be in contact as soon as possible. We are working hard to ensure services are not disrupted. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Changes to Telemedicine, Emergency Licensure and Continuing Education

The State Medical Board of Ohio met on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 and voted on the items below to better allow licensees to respond and provide essential health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specific motions from the meeting can be found here.

 

Telemedicine

Effective March 9, 2020 until Executive Order 2020-01D expires, providers can use telemedicine in place of in-person visits, without enforcement from SMBO. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Prescribing controlled substances

  • Prescribing for subacute and chronic pain

  • Prescribing to patients not seen by the provider

  • Pain management

  • Medical marijuana recommendations and renewals

  • Office-based treatment for opioid addiction

Providers must document their use of telemedicine and meet minimal standards of care. The Medical Board will provide advance notice before resuming enforcement of the above regulation when the state emergency orders are lifted.

Continuing Education

  • Effective March 9, 2020 - March 1, 2021, SMBO will suspend enforcement of CE requirements for all license renewals, including physicians

  • This does NOT include any existing board orders and consent agreements for individual licensees. Those remedial education expectations must be met.

  • Licensees are reminded that this does not excuse the legal requirement for CE, the board is only suspending enforcement. Licensees who do not complete their required CE by the time of their renewal will indicate that on their license renewal and enforcement will not be taken.

Emergency Licensure

The Medical Board will partner with the Ohio Emergency Management Agency (EMA) or other necessary government entity if the need arises to temporarily license out-of-state physicians and physician assistants.

 

 

Missed any of our COVID-19 guidance or updates? They can be found on our website: https://med.ohio.gov/COVID-19

Special Meeting of the State Medical Board of Ohio

The State Medical Board of Ohio will hold a special meeting at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 for the purpose of discussing opportunities to support our licensees in COVID-19 preparedness.

 

We will ATTEMPT to have the public join the meeting via phone and live stream. We have not conducted a meeting like this before, so your patience with any technical difficulties is appreciated. The meeting will still be open to the public for those who need to join in person.

 

A summary of the special meeting will be sent out soon after the board adjourns for those who are unable to join us via phone, video or in-person so as to support the recommendation of having 10 or less individuals at gatherings.


Call-In Information:

614-230-0229

Meeting ID 93815#


Live YouTube stream:

https://youtu.be/HfRQ3npiimY 

 

Media contact:
Tessie Pollock
614-620-2127
tessie.pollock@med.ohio.gov

 

SMBO Staffing Impact and COVID-19

In support of Governor DeWine’s initiative to limit the spread of COVID-19, the State Medical Board of Ohio staff are working remotely until further notice. We can best serve you via email. For inquiries pertaining to applying for a license, renewing a license, the status of a license application, or obtaining a license verification, please email license@med.ohio.gov. All other inquiries can be emailed to contact@med.ohio.gov. A staff member will be in contact as soon as possible. We are working hard to ensure services are not disrupted. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Updated Guidance on COVID-19 for Medical Board Licensees (3/15/20)

According to the Ohio Department of Health, the number of confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Ohio is low but rapidly increasing and public health experts expect the number of positive cases to expand significantly in the coming weeks and months. At the same time, Ohio and the nation are facing a dire shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), including that maintained in the national cache.

 

Personal Protective Equipment

Governor DeWine announced during his 3/14 briefing that the state had received its personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, gowns, and goggles, from the National Strategic Reserve last night. He asked all health care providers and others that use PPE to conserve their supplies. Governor DeWine requested that dentists and veterinarians postpone elective surgeries. Governor DeWine explained that his health advisory group is in the process of developing guidelines for doctors for postponing elective surgeries that will not put patients at risk. These measures will open up critical treatment beds while preserving the state's limited supply of PPE. The full update can be viewed on the Ohio Channel website.

  • Please conserve your personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Consider postponing elective surgical procedures in order to preserve PPE and free up treatment space for critical patients.
  • Please support your colleagues and local organizations and share needed resources before contacting the state requesting more PPE.

Reporting Requirements

Read the full updated guidance here. It contains details on the following:

  • To address the evolving response, the Director of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has issued an amended Director’s Journal Entry with updated reporting requirements for COVID-19.
  • On March 7, 2020, CDC updated the “Interim US Guidance for Risk Assessment and Public Health Management of Healthcare Personnel with Potential Exposure in a Healthcare Setting to Patients with COVID-19”.
  • On March 10, 2020, CDC updated the “Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 in Healthcare Settings"
  • For confirmed cases of COVID-19, healthcare providers or any individual having knowledge, should immediately notify their local health department (LHD). If confirmed cases are hospitalized, healthcare providers need to notify infection control personnel at their healthcare facility immediately and institute monitoring of potentially exposed healthcare workers.
  • LHDs who are notified of confirmed cases of COVID-19 should notify ODH immediately via the 24/7 Class A disease reporting line.
  • Suspected cases (PUIs) of COVID-19 or patients pending laboratory results no longer require reporting.

 

COVID-19 Guidance for Primary Care and Outpatient Providers (3/15/20) (PDF)

This situation warrants a unified, consistent approach and requires primary care providers and other outpatient services providers to comply with the following course of action regarding screening and treatment of potential COVID-19 patients. Please note the course of action detailed below is a revision to the guidance issued on March 11, 2020.

  • Telephone Consult: Patients should be encouraged to receive a phone-based triage, which in most cases will be done by their primary care provider. Based on these phone consultations, and utilizing CDC guidance, providers will decide whether patients require an in-person assessment.
  • Hospital Assessment Locations Will be Coordinating the Testing
  • Temporary central assessment and testing locations are being established throughout the state of Ohio.
  • Providers should contact the local hospital to which you would refer a patient for admission to learn where your community’s assessment and testing location is.
  • Trained primary care professionals will be at these central assessment locations to assess whether the patient should be tested, sent home or admitted to the hospital.
  • Patients who present to an outpatient setting other than a central assessment and testing location and are determined to need testing for COVID-19 should be referred to the central location for testing. Providers are strongly discouraged from doing patient assessments for COVID-19 at sites other than central assessment and treatment facilities.

Testing

  • Patients with mild systems will not be tested and will return home to self-monitor.
  • Patients with moderate symptoms with other risk factors should receive a test at a commercial laboratory.
  • Patients with severe symptoms should be tested through hospital laboratories (if available) or the ODH laboratory and be admitted to the hospital. Test results from the ODH laboratory will be returned within 24 hours.

Why are these steps required?

  • PE is very limited (including the national cache).
  • Those providers who do currently have PPE are using it at a rate that cannot be sustained.
  • The need to minimize in-person interactions to the extent possible.
  • The complexity and scope of the public health issues involved in mitigating this problem requires a centralized, coordinated approach.
  • It is absolutely vital that hospital capacity be reserved for the sickest patients.
  • Please refer patients to coronavirus.ohio.gov or to 1-833-4ASKODH (1-833-427-5634) for additional information.

 

Guidance for Outpatient Providers Evaluating Patients for COVID-19

We are sure you have been flooded with questions and requests for appointments. This guidance should help direct your decision-making as we are relying on your clinical judgment as these patients present.

 

We have heard some concerns about some physicians declining to see patients with respiratory illness. Again, please remember that we are relying on you as our first line of defense. Emergency departments are being inundated with patients who are mildly ill or even “worried well.” Please triage patients to determine their needs before referring them to other settings and if a referral is made, please call ahead to notify the facility so they can anticipate the patients’ arrival and prepare appropriately.

 

When evaluating patients in an outpatient setting, clinicians should use their judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and whether the patient should be tested. Guidance for testing has been expanded to a wider group of symptomatic patients. Decisions on which patients receive testing should be based on the local epidemiology of COVID-19, as well as the clinical course of illness. 

 

Click to read the most recent guidance for outpatient providers.

Conservation of Personal Protection Equipment

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and Ohio Hospital Association (OHA) have asked us to share this guidance recommending immediate actions for the conservation of personal protective equipment (PPE) for all health care facilities in the state of Ohio due to the ongoing COVID-19 response. Click here to read the joint letter from ODH and OHA.

COVID-19 and Telemedicine Guidance

 

Statement on COVID-19 for Licensees

With coronavirus disease COVID-19 now active in Ohio, it is important for medical professionals to have the latest information. 
For specific information for health care professionals, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s web page for health care professionals. For Ohio-specific information, visit the Ohio Department of Health and for international information, visit the World Health Organization’s web page regarding coronavirus disease. 

 

Healthcare professionals are encouraged to take every day preventative actions to stay healthy:

•    Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
•    Stay home when sick
•    Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
•    Cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue and then dispose of the tissue
•    Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
•    Follow public health advice regarding social distancing measures

 

The State Medical Board of Ohio has received numerous inquiries regarding telemedicine regulations. Please see guidance below for quick reference. Detailed information can be found in the Medical Board’s rules. 

Practicing telemedicine in Ohio overview (PDF)

Telemedicine FAQs

Telemedicine rules

Printable packet regarding the Medical Board’s Telemedicine Regulations (PDF)

 

COVID-19 Update from ODH (March eNews)

The March 2020 issue of the Medical Board's eNews is available. Articles include:

  • Updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 guidance documents
  • EMS public records exemptions
  • reporting scam phone calls
  • additional medical marijuana conditions considered
  • board seeks medical marijuana subject matter expert
  • J-1 waiver program open 
  • new non-pharmacy terminal distributor rules
  • Vaccines for Children
  • DATA 2000 prescriber training

Click here to read the issue

Coronavirus Update from Ohio Department of Health

 

2/29/2020 - Read the updated health alert from ODH

 

As you are undoubtedly aware, coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to be an issue of concern nationally and internationally. To date, containment measures have been effective in minimizing the impact in the United States and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to consider the health risk from COVID-19 to be low among the general public in the U.S. However, there is increasing concern that eventually community person-to-person spread will occur here as it has recently in countries such as South Korea, Italy, and Iran. In this event, our country will need to address COVID-19 by taking steps that ensure we have the human and material resources necessary to combat this virus for the long haul. Our communities will need to implement mitigation strategies to minimize disease spread and providers should be prepared for a surge in patients with COVID-19. In severe circumstances, such a surge could present significant resource issues.

Health care facilities address such concerns on a regular basis in preparedness drills and tabletop exercises. Differences exist in each outbreak or pandemic situation, and lessons learned from past events may not fully cover a new event as it evolves.

As you prepare for potential person-to-person spread in your respective areas, I would like to highlight the latest guidance from the CDC, and encourage you to review and incorporate in your planning.

Use of and conservation of Personal Protective Equipment

Healthcare Supply of Personal Protective Equipment
Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of N95 Respirators

Information for Healthcare Professionals
Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) or Persons Under Investigation for COVID-19 in Healthcare Settings, updated February 21, 2020
Evaluating and Reporting Persons Under Investigation (PUI)
Healthcare Infection Control Guidance
Clinical Care Guidance
Home Care Guidance
Guidance for EMS
Healthcare Personnel with Potential Exposure Guidance
Inpatient Obstetric Healthcare Guidance

General information on mitigation strategies in pandemic prevention
Community Mitigation Guidelines to Prevent Pandemic Influenza — United States

Additional resources for health care providers can be found on the Ohio Department of Health's (ODH) website here.

ODH continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 outbreak and work alongside the CDC, local health districts and providers to identify and contain the virus in Ohio. There currently are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio.

As of February 24, 2020, the CDC reports 14 cases of COVID-19 detected and laboratory-confirmed in the U.S., with 12 related to travel and two from person-to-person spread. Additionally, the CDC reports 39 cases of COVID-19 in people repatriated to the U.S. by the Department of State. These include three from Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, and 36 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

I thank you for your diligence and compassion as we work together to tackle this public health threat.

Sincerely,


Mark Hurst, MD
Medical Director
Ohio Department of Health