JUCM News readers may recall controversy concerning the COVID-19 Test to Treat process, wherein pharmacists were singled out as providers qualified to participate in a speech by President Biden, followed quickly by a clarification from the Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response that urgent care centers who meet the relevant criteria may also qualify to participate. That was far from a one-off when looking at pharmacists being granted authority to provide services typically reserved for physicians, however. Most recently, two states enacted legislation allowing pharmacists to test and then prescribe medications for a range of conditions that present commonly to urgent care, including flu and strep. Alaska House Bill 145 expands pharmacists’ scope of practice to “independently provide patient care services for…a condition that (A) is minor and generally self-limiting; (B) has a test that is used to guide diagnosis or clinical decision-making and the test is waived under 42 U.S.C. 263a (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988; or (C) falls under a statewide standing order from the chief 11 medical officer of the Department of Health.” Meanwhile, Delaware House Bill 399 adds initiation of drug therapy to the definition of pharmacy practice and mandates creation of statewide protocols permitting pharmacists to order tests and treatments for a variety of health conditions, including COVID-19. With pharmacists notoriously being overworked, leaving them vulnerable to burnout and possibly med errors, it’s reasonable to ask whether such legislation will be good for patients. To ensure you’re getting the whole story as it applies to urgent care, read Pharmacists with Prescribing Privileges: A New Class of Medical Practitioner and Prescribing Pharmacists: Cheaper and More Accessible Than Urgent Care? in the JUCM archive right now.
Update: Pharmacists Keep Gaining Prescribing Authority. The Question Is, Is That Good for Patients?