We previously reported that on March 30, 2017, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and the executive directors of Ohio’s health care licensing agencies announced new standards for prescribing opiates for acute pain. Following that announcement, the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy proposed rules that, if adopted, will increase the scope of the previously proposed standards by requiring prescribers to include an ICD-10 diagnosis code on all prescriptions for controlled substances, not just opiate pain medications. The new proposed rules aim to include controlled substances that treat conditions such as attention deficit disorder, low testosterone, narcolepsy, and seizure disorders.

On July 28, 2017, associations advocating on behalf of doctors and hospitals reached a compromise with Gov. Kasich’s office and the State Medical Board of Ohio, under which prescribers must begin reporting ICD-10 codes for opiate prescriptions for acute pain as soon as the proposed rules are finalized, but will have an additional nine months to begin reporting ICD-10 codes for other controlled substances. It is expected the boards of medicine, dentistry, and nursing will propose additional rules related to these prescribing standards.

Medical Board Executive Director A.J. Groeber has indicated that the board’s ability to know what conditions Ohio doctors are treating using potentially addictive opiates is “the linchpin” both to effective regulation and education. Executive Director Groeber went on to state, “It’s not just about going after the bad actors. We want to be able to do that, but we also want to educate the vast majority of our well-intentioned licensees to make sure that they know that they can treat patients effectively with fewer pills and fewer days’ supply.” i

While the proposed rules will permit an Ohio pharmacist acting in good faith to dispense a controlled substance even if the prescription lacks a diagnosis code, pharmacies that dispense and prescribers who personally furnish controlled substances will be required to transmit the diagnosis code to Ohio’s prescription drug monitoring program, also known as OARRS. The pharmacy board, which oversees the OARRS program, will contact prescribers who issue controlled substance prescriptions without a diagnosis code. In light of the comments from the medical board’s executive director, prescribers should anticipate additional follow-up from their licensing boards.