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Information from TN Dept of Health about the Ongoing Novel Coronavirus Outbreak

Board of Nursing

Public Chapter 37

This act prohibits agencies subject to sunset review from promulgating rules or adopting policies to exempt members solely by virtue of their status as members.

This act took effect March 23, 2021.

Public Chapter 136

This act was one of the Department of Health’s legislative initiatives, relative to the Controlled Substance Monitoring Database (CSMD). First, the act authorizes the state’s chief medical examiner, or county medical examiner, to allow designees to approve death investigations. Next, this act allows deidentified CSMD data, rather than only aggregate, to be shared, with the intent of improving information access. Additionally, this act allows for CSMD data to be shared with additional state, county, or federal agencies outside of Tennessee. Lastly, this act decreases the quorum requirements of the CSMD committee by one member, but still have a majority of members present to conduct regular committee business (6).

This act took effect April 13, 2021.

Public Chapter 150

This act simply adds FQHC’s in Tennessee to the definition of healthcare organizations pursuant to the law around quality improvement committees.

This act took effect July 1, 2021.

Public Chapter 153

This act creates a new definition of “store-and-forward telemedicine services” to include the use of asynchronous computer-based communications between the healthcare provider and the patient for the purpose of diagnoses, consultation, or treatment of a patient at a distant site where there may be no in-person exchange.

This act took effect April 13, 2021.

Public Chapter 179

This act authorizes unlicensed graduates of certain medical training programs to provide telehealth services, provided they maintain the same existing standards for telehealth that licensed providers must meet.

This act took effect April 20, 2021.

Public Chapter 230

This act revises the definition of marijuana to clarify that it does not include a product approved as a prescription by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

This act took effect April 22, 2021.

Public Chapter 242

This act authorizes records custodians to petition a court for injunctive relief from individuals making frequent public records requests with the intent of disrupting government operations, following a fifth (5th) public records request. A records custodian can only petition a court if they notify the person in writing stating the specific conduct may constitute intent to disrupt government operations, and that the person continues to do so. The individual upon a court enjoinment would not be able to make public requests at the agency for up to one (1) year.

This chapter took effect April 28th, 2021 and will sunset July 1, 2025.

Public Chapter 259

This act establishes requirements for a healthcare provider to follow when either an inpatient in a health care facility, or someone who is seeking services in an emergency department, expresses to the provider a recent threat or attempt at suicide or infliction of bodily harm to themselves. In this scenario, the healthcare provider shall enter the attempt or threat into the patient's medical record. Upon discharge from the facility, the facility shall provide the patient with contact information to access a qualified mental health professional or counseling resource unless the patient is discharged to another facility. This referral requirement can be satisfied by providing contact information for this state's mobile crisis services or the statewide crisis hotline. Lastly, the act states that a healthcare provider who violates this section is subject to discipline by the licensing authority.

This act took effect July 1, 2021.

Public Chapter 288

 This act extends the board of nursing to June 30, 2023.

The act took effect April 30, 2021.

Public Chapter 291

This act requires the attorney general and reporter to not approve an emergency rule if the emergency rule does not meet the statutory criteria for adoption of the rule.

This act took effect July 1, 2021.

Public Chapter 328

This act requires that starting December 1, 2023, state agencies submit a report of their effective rules to the chairs of the government operations committee every eight (8) years. The report is required to include a brief description of the department’s operations that each chapter affects, as well as each rule and its administrative history, which would include the original promulgated date and the dates the rule was last amended, if applicable. Additionally, the report would include a determination of each rule on whether it is adheres to current state or federal law or court rulings, should be amended or repealed, reviewed further, or continue in effect without amendment. Lastly, if there are any intentionally false statements in the report, the government operations committee would have the ability to vote to request the general assembly to remove a rule or suspend the department’s rulemaking authority for any reasonable period of time.

This act took effect July 1, 2021.

Public Chapter 340

This act was brought by the Tennessee Hospital Association in an attempt to codify recent practices allowed by executive order in regard to recent nursing school graduates. Graduate nurses may engage in the practice of professional nursing for up to 120 calendar days from the date of receipt of their first authorization to take the NCLEX if certain conditions are met. The practice must be in a licensed healthcare institution or affiliate of the institution. The graduate nurse must be supervised by a licensed nurse and the licensed nurse may only supervise one graduate nurse at a time.  Finally, the graduate must show proof of their authorization to take the NCLEX as well as proof of graduation from an approved nursing school within the past 90 days.

This act took effect May 4, 2021.

Public Chapter 348

This act requires fetal remains from a surgical abortion to be disposed of solely by burial or cremation.  Under this act, an abortion facility is defined as any ASTC, private office, or other facility as defined by TCA 68-11-201 in which abortions are induced or performed.  The act does not include hospitals licensed under Title 68 as long as the hospital policies and regulations concerning disposal of fetal remains substantially complies with the requirements of this act.  A pregnant woman who has a surgical abortion has the right to choose burial or cremation of the fetal remains as well as the location for the final disposition.  The woman is to be provided with forms created by the Department of Health informing her of that right and selecting the means and location.  If the woman does not wish the exercise this right, the abortion facility shall determine whether disposition is by cremation or interment.  The act also establishes a variety of record keeping requirements on the facility.    

This act took effect on May 6, 2021 for rulemaking purposes. The rest of the public chapter takes effect July 1, 2021.

Public Chapter 357

This act authorizes an exception to existing telehealth requirements governing healthcare providers in Tennessee. In doing so, it allows individuals licensed in another state to practice telehealth in Tennessee while providing healthcare services on a volunteer basis through a free clinic.

This act took effect May 11, 2021.

Public Chapter 362

This act is known as the “Jim Coley Protection for Rape Survivors Act,” and revises existing provisions relative to the protocol for forensic medical examinations of victims of sexually oriented crimes. It requires healthcare providers to notify law enforcement that an evidence collection kit is ready for release within 24 hours of concluding the examination. It also requires law enforcement to pick up the kit for storage or transmission within 48 hours of being notified and revises the storage requirements for maintaining records of the kits. Lastly, in the event that a victim elects not to report the alleged offense to police at the time of examination, the collection kit becomes a hold kid and the healthcare provider is required to assign a number to identify the kit rather than using the victim’s name.

This act partly took effect May 11, 2021, but not for TDH concerns. The rest of the act took effect July 1, 2021.

Public Chapter 453

This act requires public or private entities or businesses that operate a building open to the general public to post signage regarding public restroom access in certain situations. Specifically, this applies to entities or businesses that have restroom policies allowing either biological sex to use any public restroom within their building. The act includes requirements for language, size, location, and even color for the signage.  The act excludes unisex, single occupant restrooms or family restrooms intended for use by either sex.  

This act took effect July 1, 2021.

Public Chapter 458

This act adds nurses to the list of victims warranting enhanced penalties under the crime of assault against first responders (a Class A misdemeanor), as well aggravated assault of first responder (a Class C felony).

This act takes effect July 1, 2021.

Public Chapter 460

This act specifies that standard medical practice does not involve prescribing hormone treatment for gender dysphoric or gender incongruent prepubertal minors. Additionally, this act prohibits a healthcare prescriber from prescribing a course of treatment that involves hormone treatment therapy for gender dysphoric or gender incongruent prepubertal minors, except when prescribing a course of treatment for diagnoses of growth deficiencies or other diagnoses unrelated to gender dysphoria or gender incongruency.

This act took effect May 18, 2021.

Public Chapter 461

This act requires TDH licensing authorities, upon learning a healthcare prescriber was indicted of certain criminal offenses (controlled substance violations or sexual offenses), to automatically restrict the prescriber’s ability to prescribe Schedule II controlled substances until the case reaches a final disposition. The restriction shall be removed upon sufficient proof of acquittal or dismissal/nolle prosequi.  The act further requires licensing authorities to automatically revoke the license of a practitioner that is convicted of those same criminal offenses.  A new license shall be granted if the conviction is overturned or reversed (but shall be restricted related to prescribing if the case has not reached final disposition). In addition, the act requires the licensing authority to suspend the license of midlevel practitioner (APRN/PA) upon finding the healthcare professional failed to comply with physician collaboration requirements.  Finally, this act requires facility administrators to report certain disciplinary actions concerning licensed personnel to the professionals’ respective boards.  

This act took effect May 18, 2021.

Public Chapter 513

This act prohibits the Governor from issuing an executive order and a state agency, department or political subdivision from promulgating, adopting, or enforcing an ordinance or resolution that requires a person to receive an immunization, vaccination, or injection for the SARS-CoV-2 virus or any variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It also deletes the previous override during an epidemic or immediate threat of an epidemic of an objection against vaccination that was made on the basis of religious tenets. The law prohibits requiring the COVID-19 vaccine to attend k-12 schools.  The prohibition against requiring vaccines does not apply to governmental entities subject to federal or state statute or rule that prohibits the entity from requiring medical treatment for those who object on religious grounds or right of conscience.  The law also does not apply to students of a public institution of higher education delivering healthcare services when the student is participating in/fulfilling requirements of a program in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, or another healthcare profession.

This act took effect May 25, 2021.

Public Chapter 531

This act limits an agency’s authority to promulgate rules without a public hearing.   There are exceptions to the public hearing requirement.  These exceptions include emergency rules, rules that are nonsubstantive modifications to existing rules (like clerical updates), rules that repeal existing rule, or rules that eliminate or reduce a fee described by an existing rule. 

This act took effect July 1, 2021.

Public Chapter 532

This act authorizes the joint government operations committee to stay an agency’s rule from going into effect for a period of time not to exceed ninety (90) days. If the government operations committee determines that subsequent stays are necessary, then the joint committee may issue consecutive stays, each for an additional ninety (90) day period, so long as such stays do not extend beyond the fifth legislative day of the year following the year in which the rule is filed with the secretary of state. The initial stay may be done by either the house or senate government operations committee, but subsequent stays must be by agreement by the committees of both chambers.  A stay is effective when the respective committee files written notice with the secretary of state, and the respective committee shall specify the length of effectiveness of the stay.

This act took effect May 25, 2021.

Public Chapter 577

This public chapter establishes the medical cannabis commission which is administratively attached to the department of health for purposes of budgeting, audit, use of IT systems, HR support, clerical assistance and administrative support.  The commission is composed of 9 members.  The Governor appoints 3 members (1 from each grand division), the Lt. Governor appoints 3 members (1 must be a physician and 1 a pharmacist), and the Speaker of the House appoints 3 members (1 must be a physician and 1 a pharmacist).  The commission must be impaneled and hold its first meeting by October 1, 2021.  The commission is required to meet at least once every two months prior to March 2023.  The commission shall appoint an executive director.

The commission is to examine federal laws and other states’ laws regarding medical use of cannabis, including issues relating to patient qualification, patient registration, role of practitioners in recommending/prescribing, establishing guidelines for acceptable medical uses, development of a standard of care, etc.

This act took effect May 27, 2021.

**These are general summaries of legislation.  For more detailed information and all specifics/requirements, please review the links to each public chapter**

Public Chapter 526

This act adds a representative from the Tennessee Nurses Association, a representative from the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, as well as the executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability as members to the Alzheimer’s Advisory Council.

This act took effect on March 6, 2020.

Public Chapter 548

This act extends the Interstate Nurse Licensure Compact to June 30, 2028.

The act took effect March 19, 2020.

Public Chapter 573

This act amends the Tennessee Together statutes.  It expands the definition of “alternative treatments” by adding “nonopioid medicinal drugs or drug products, occupational therapy, and interventional procedures or treatments.”  This is primarily relevant to the treatments that must be disclosed and explained by a healthcare practitioner to a patient or the patient's legal representative as a prerequisite to obtaining informed consent to treatment with an opioid.

This act took effect on March 19, 2020.

Public Chapter 594

This act was the Department of Health’s Licensure Accountability Act.  The bill allows all health related boards to take action against a licensee that has been disciplined by another state for any acts or omissions that would constitute grounds for discipline in Tennessee.  The law also expands available emergency actions, allowing actions beyond simply a summary suspension.  Finally, the act establishes that the notification of law changes to health practitioners can be satisfied by the online posting of law changes by the respective boards.  Notice must be maintained online for at least 2 years following the change.

This act took effect March 20, 2020.

Public Chapter 645

This act establishes the Rare Disease Advisory Council under the Bureau of TennCare.  The council is comprised of eleven members (nine appointed by the Governor, one by Lt. Governor, one by Speaker of the House).  Two physicians with experience treating rare disease and one RN or APRN with experience treating rare disease are among those members to be appointed by the Governor.  The council exists to advise TennCare’s pharmacy advisory committee and drug utilization review committee in regard to rare and orphan diseases.

For the purpose of appointing members to the advisory council, this act took effect April 1, 2020.  For all other purposes, this act shall take effect July 1, 2020.

Public Chapter 684

This chapter modifies the time period for which a hospital and certain other facilities (community health clinic, birthing center, out-patient “walk-in” clinic, emergency medical services facility) shall receive possession of any newborn infant from the mother wishing to give up the child.  Previously the time period was 72 hours.  The new time window is 2 weeks.

This act took effect June 15, 2020.

Public Chapter 738

This act prohibits a governmental entity from authorizing destruction of public records if the governmental entity knows the records are subject to a pending public record request.  Prior to authorizing destruction of public records an entity must contact the public record request coordinator to ensure the records are not subject to any pending public record requests.  Records may still be disposed of in accordance with an established records retention schedule/policy as part of an ordinary course of business as long as the records custodian is without knowledge the records are subject to a pending request.

This act took effect on June 22, 2020.

Public Chapter 761

This act allows certain midlevel practitioners to prescribe buprenorphine when employed in a community mental health center (CMHC) or a federally qualified health center (FQHC).  To be eligible under this law, the practitioner must be licensed, and practice as, a family, adult, or psychiatric nurse practitioner or physician assistant.  They also must have a DATA waiver issued by SAMHSA/DEA.  There can be no limitations or conditions imposed on the provider’s license within the previous three (3) years. Prescriptions by the practitioner must not exceed a sixteen (16) milligram daily equivalent.  The practitioner also must not prescribe mono product or buprenorphine without naloxone.  The provider may only prescribe buprenorphine products to patients treated through the organization that employs the provider.  Prescriptions can only be dispensed by a licensed pharmacy to ensure entry into the CSMD.  The provider has a cap of fifty (50) patients at any given time.  The law also requires the provider to initiate and lead a discussion regarding patient readiness to taper off medications in their treatment at any time upon the patient’s request, but no later than one (1) year after initiating treatment, and then every six (6) months thereafter.

The facility must employ one or more physicians and have adopted clinical protocols for medication assisted treatment.  The midlevel’s collaborating physician must hold an active DATA waiver and be treating patients with buprenorphine at the same facility.  The facility must employ providers that accept TennCare and are accepting new TennCare patients.  The facility must verify identification of patients.  The collaborating physician must review 100% of the charts of patients being prescribed a buprenorphine product and can only collaborate/supervise four (4) nurse practitioners or physician assistants.   

This act took effect July 1, 2020.

Public Chapter 764

This act addresses multiple provisions related to abortion in the state of Tennessee.  First, it deletes the requirement that the Department of Children’s Services provide court advocates and other information about judicial procedures to minors who are considering abortion.

Second, it establishes an ultrasound requirement.  Prior to a woman giving informed consent for an abortion, an ultrasound must be performed.  The physician must determine the gestational age and provide it to the woman.  There must be a determination of whether a fetal heartbeat exists, and if audible, make it audible to the woman.  The physician must show ultrasound images to the woman and explain what they depict.  The gestational age and presence or absence of heartbeat must be recorded in the woman’s medical record.  The physician must also obtain certification from the woman that she was provided the information required by this statute.  The ultrasound requirements of this statute may be delegated by a physician to an ultrasound technician with appropriate certifications/registrations under the statute.

The act also establishes a prohibition on abortions at certain gestational milestones.  Abortions are prohibited after detection of a fetal heartbeat, at 6 weeks gestational age or older, as well as 8, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, and 24 weeks gestational age or older.  There is a medical emergency exception if certain criteria are met.  Abortions are prohibited based on race, sex, or diagnosis of Down syndrome.

It is a class C felony for a physician to perform an abortion in violation of this statute.  It is a class E felony for an ultrasound technician to not fulfill delegated duties related to the ultrasound provisions, if that non-performance results in an abortion.  A physician charged with violation of this statute must report the charge within seven (7) days to the Board of Medical Examiners.

The final portion of this act requires that certain information be provided regarding reversing chemical abortions.  Specifically it requires the conspicuous posting of a sign in offices or facilities providing more than fifty (50) abortions per year which states:

“Recent developing research has indicated that mifepristone alone is not always effective in ending a pregnancy. It may be possible to avoid, cease, or even reverse the intended effects of a chemical abortion utilizing mifepristone if the second pill has not been taken. Please consult with a healthcare professional immediately.”

Failure to post the signage when/where necessary, requires the department of health to assess a $10,000 civil monetary penalty.  Each day an abortion is performed without the required signage is a separate violation.  The same language on the signage is required to be given to woman in medical discharge instructions after the first drug is given in a chemical abortion.

The majority of this act took effect July 13, 2020.  The provisions relating to chemical abortion reversal take effect October 1, 2020.

Public Chapter 771

This act allows certain midlevel practitioners to prescribe buprenorphine when employed in a non-residential office-based opiate treatment facility (OBOT) licensed by the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (MHSAS).    To be eligible under this law, the practitioner must be licensed, and practice as, a family, adult, or psychiatric nurse practitioner or physician assistant.  They also must have a DATA waiver issued by SAMHSA/DEA.  Prescriptions by midlevel providers under this statute are capped at a sixteen (16) milligram daily dose, and must not be for a mono-product or buprenorphine without naloxone, except when utilizing injectable or implantable buprenorphine products.  Midlevel providers under this statute are capped at 100 patients.

 The OBOT in these situations must employ the midlevel’s collaborating physician (who also must hold an active DATA waiver and be treating patients with buprenorphine at the same OBOT) and the OBOT must not have the authority to dispense buprenorphine products.  The collaborating/supervising physician under this statute cannot supervise more than two (2) midlevel practitioners.

The OBOT also must employ providers that are credentialed and contracted to accept TennCare patients and bill TennCare for services for treatment of opioid use disorder with buprenorphine.  Finally the OBOT must be accepting new TennCare patients.

This act took effect August 1, 2020.

 

Public Chapter 12

This act allows a qualified registered nurse, if the nurse has a cooperative working relationship with a physician and follows hospital protocols, to determine whether a patient presenting to a hospital has an emergency medical condition. Emergency medical condition and qualified registered nurse are defined in the statute. This legislation was brought by the Tennessee Hospital Association.  This act took effect March 20, 2019.

Public Chapter 61

This act states that an entity responsible for an AED program is immune from civil liability for personal injury caused by maintenance or use of an AED if such conduct does not rise to the level of willful or wanton misconduct or gross negligence.  This act took effect on March 28, 2019.

Public Chapter 117

This act defines “alternative treatments” to 63-1-164 pertaining to the restrictions and limitations on treating patients with opioids.  This act took effect April 9, 2019.

Public Chapter 124

This act makes a variety of small changes and additions to the TN Together opioid initiative put in place in 2018.  One addition is allowing access to CSMD data to a healthcare practitioner under review by a quality improvement committee (QIC), as well as to the QIC, if the information is furnished by a healthcare practitioner who is the subject of the review by the QIC.

The requirement for e-prescribing of all schedule II substances by January 1, 2020 has been delayed to January 1, 2021 and is modified to require all schedule II through V prescriptions to be e-prescribed except under certain circumstances.  The law also requires all pharmacy dispensing software vendors operating in the state to update their systems to allow for partial filling of controlled substances.

Definitions are given by this act to the terms palliative care, severe burn and major physical trauma.  Along with its new definition, palliative care has now joined severe burn and major physical trauma as an exception to the opioid dosage limits otherwise required under TN Together.

An unintended consequence of last year’s Public Chapter 1039 was on cough syrup.  This act establishes that the law does not apply to opioids approved by the FDA to treat upper respiratory symptoms or cough, but limits such cough syrup to a 14 day supply.

Also changed from last year’s act is the requirement to partial fill.  Partial filling of opioids is now permissive.

Finally, the opioid limits under have been simplified from the previous year’s act.  The twenty day supply and morphine milligram equivalent limit has been eliminated.  Three day and ten day requirements remain the same.  Instances such as more than minimally invasive surgery, which previously fell under the twenty day provision, now can be treated under the limits of the thirty day category.  This act took effect on April 9, 2019.

Public Chapter 144

This act amends the Prevention of Youth Access to Tobacco and Vapor Products Act by limiting the places in which one may use vapor products.  The act defines vapor products and prohibits the use of such products in a number of locations including child care centers, group care homes, healthcare facilities (excluding nursing homes), residential treatment facilities, school grounds, and several other areas.  Several locations have specific exceptions set forth in the statute.  This act took effect on April 17, 2019.

Public Chapter 156

This public chapter creates a commemorative certificate of nonviable birth.  The licensed healthcare practitioner who attends or diagnoses a nonviable birth, may, based on the practitioner’s best medical judgment and knowledge of the patient, advise a patient that experiences a nonviable birth that the patient may obtain a commemorative certificate from the Department of Health.  The Department shall provide a form on its website that the practitioner shall execute and provide to the patient.  Upon the request of the patient, the Department shall issue the commemorative certificate within 60 days after the request and shall charge a fee not to exceed the actual cost for issuing the certificate.  This act took effect April 18, 2019.

Public Chapter 183

This act permits advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and physician assistants (PAs) working in a community mental health center to have their chart review done remotely by their collaborating physician. The electronic means by which the transmission occurs must be HIPAA- compliant.  This act took effect April 23, 2019.

Public Chapter 195

Although this act largely pertains to boards governed by the Department of Commerce and Insurance, one small section applies to the health related boards. In that section, the act removes the requirement that a member of the armed forces and/or their spouse who requests an expedited license must have left current employment in another state. This section applies to all health related boards.  The Commissioner of Health is permitted to promulgate rules, but rules are not needed to implement the act.  This act takes effect July 1, 2019.

Public Chapter 222

This act repeals the boutique ultrasound statute from 2018 which set forth minimum standards for any person practicing ultrasound sonography in a nonclinical 3D/4D ultrasound boutique setting.  This act took effect April 30, 2019.

 Public Chapter 229

This act allows healthcare professionals to accept goods or services as payment in direct exchange of barter for healthcare services. Bartering is only permissible if the patient to whom services are provided is not covered by health insurance. All barters accepted by a healthcare professional must be submitted to the IRS annually. This act does not apply to healthcare services provided at a pain management clinic.  This act took effect April 30, 2019.

Public Chapter 243

This act mandates that an agency that requires a person applying for a license to engage in an occupation, trade, or profession in this state to take an examination must provide appropriate accommodations in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Any state agency that administers a required examination for licensure (except for examinations required by federal law) shall promulgate rules in regard to eligibility criteria. This legislation was introduced to assist individuals with dyslexia.  This act took effect May 2, 2019 for the purpose of promulgating rules, and for all other purposes, takes effect July 1, 2020.

Public Chapter 245

This act prohibits any person who is not licensed or certified by the Board of Nursing from using the title “nurse” or any other title that implies that the person is a practicing nurse. The Board is empowered to petition any circuit or chancery court having jurisdiction to enjoin: (1) a person attempting to practice or practicing nursing without a valid license; (2) a licensee found guilty of any of the acts listed in 63-7-115; or (3) any person using the title “nurse” who does not possess valid license or certificate from the Board.  This act took effect May 2, 2019.

Public Chapter 255

The act permits a medical professional who has a current license to practice from another state, commonwealth territory, or the District of Columbia is exempt from the licensure requirements of such boards if: (1) the medical professional is a member of the armed forces; and (2) the medical professional is engaged in the practice of the medical profession listed in 68-1-101 through a partnership with the federal Innovative Readiness Training. The respective health boards may promulgate rules for implementation.  This act took effect April 18, 2019 for the purpose of promulgating rules, and for all other purposes, takes effect July 1, 2019.

Public Chapter 268

This act rewrites the criminal offense for female genital mutilation.  Those who knowingly mutilate a female, facilitate the mutilation, or knowingly transport or facilitate the transportation of a female for the purposes of mutilation are subject to a class D felony.  Such individuals are also liable civilly.  Any physician, physician in training, certified nurse or midwife or any other medical professional that performs, participates in, or facilitates a mutilation shall be subject to disciplinary action by the appropriate licensing board in addition to criminal penalties.  Certain medical procedures listed in the statute are not considered violations.  This act takes effect July 1, 2019.

Public Chapter 275

This act permits the Department of Health to seek federal grants from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, or other entities, for the purpose of developing a training program for certified nurse practitioners in treating and processing minors victimized by certain sexual offenses.   This act took effect April 30, 2019.

Public Chapter 307

This act requires the Department of Health to include data related to complications of induced abortions, including the number and type of complications in its annual induced termination of pregnancy (ITOP) data report. The department shall not release any data that could identify individual patients. The department may promulgate rules necessary to implement this act.  This act took effect May 8, 2019 for the purpose of promulgating rules, and for all other purposes will take effect July 7, 2019.

Public Chapter 326

This act modifies the definition of registered nurse first assistant (RNFA) by authorizing an RNFA to demonstrate certificate by either (1) being certified in perioperative nursing or (2) being both certified as an advanced practice registered nurse and qualified by education and training to perform tasks involved in perioperative nursing.  This act goes into effect immediately for the purpose of promulgating rules and otherwise goes into effect July 1, 2020.

Public Chapter 327

This act requires the Commissioner of Health, by January 1, 2020, to study instances when co-prescribing of naloxone with an opioid is beneficial and publish the results to each prescribing board and to the board of pharmacy.  The findings shall be included in the chronic pain guidelines adopted by the Chronic Pain Guidelines Committee.  This act took effect May 8, 2019.

Public Chapter 447

This act permits law enforcement agencies to subpoena materials and documents pertaining to an investigation conducted by the Department of Health prior to formal disciplinary charges being filed against the provider. This bill was brought by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.  This act went into effect May 22, 2019.

Public Chapter 611

This law requires an agency holding a public hearing as part of its rulemaking process, to make copies of the rule available in “redline form” to people attending the hearing. This takes effect July 1, 2018.

Public Chapter 638

This chapter prohibits healthcare prescribers and their employees, agents, or independent contractors from in-person solicitation, telemarketing, or telephonic solicitation of victims within 30 days of an accident or disaster for the purpose of marketing services of the healing arts related to the accident or disaster.  There are specific exceptions laid out in the chapter. This act takes effect July 1, 2018.

Public Chapter 674

This chapter allows buprenorphine mono or buprenorphine without naloxone to be directly administered by a healthcare provider acting within the scope of practice.  The administration must be for a substance use disorder and pursuant to a medical or prescription order from a physician licensed under title 63 chapter 6 or 9.  This does not allow dispensing that would permit administration away from the premises at which it is dispensed. This act took effect April 12, 2018.

Public Chapter 675

This act requires the department of health to accept allegations of opioid abuse or diversion and for the department to publicize a means of reporting allegations. 

Any entity that prescribes, dispenses, OR handles opioids is required to provide information to employees about reporting suspected opioid abuse/diversion.  That notice is to either be provided individually to the employee in writing and documented by the employer OR by posting a sign in a conspicuous, non-public area of minimum height and width stating: “NOTICE: PLEASE REPORT ANY SUSPECTED ABUSE OR DIVERSION OF OPIOIDS, OR ANY OTHER IMPROPER BEHAVIOR WITH RESPECT TO OPIOIDS, TO THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH'S COMPLAINT INTAKE LINE: 800-852-2187.”

Whistleblower protections are also established.  An individual who makes a report in good faith may not be terminated or suffer adverse licensure action solely based on the report.  The  individual also is immune from any civil liability related to a good faith report.  This act takes effect January 1, 2019.

Public Chapter 744

This statute allows a licensing entity the discretion to not suspend/deny/revoke a license in cases where the licensee has defaulted or become delinquent on student loans IF a medical hardship  significantly contributed to the default or delinquency. This act took effect January 1, 2019.

Public Chapter 745 and Public Chapter 793

These public chapters work together to create and implement the “Fresh Start Act.”  Licensing authorities are prohibited from denying an application or renewal for a  license/certificate/registration due to a prior criminal conviction that does not directly relate to the applicable occupation.  Lays out the requirements on the licensing authorities as well as the  exceptions to the law (ex: rebuttable presumption regarding A and B level felonies).  These acts take effect July 1, 2018.

Public Chapter 750

This chapter updates the specific language required to be in the notice given to mammogram patients that are revealed to have dense breasts or extremely dense breasts. This act takes effect July 1, 2018.

Public Chapter 754

This chapter prevents any board, commission, committee, etc. created by statute from promulgating rules, issuing statements, or issuing intra-agency memoranda that infringe on an entity  member’s freedom of speech. 

Freedom of speech includes, but is not limited to, a member’s freedom to express an opinion concerning any matter relating to that governmental entity, excluding matters deemed to be  confidential under TCA 10-7-504.

Violations as determined by a joint evaluation committee may result in recommendations to the general assembly concerning the entity’s sunset status, rulemaking authority and funding. This act took effect April 18, 2018.

Public Chapter 844

This act requires the department of education to establish a student support collaborative to review and define the roles and responsibilities for school social workers, school counselors, school  psychologists, and school nurses.  The collaborative shall identify available resources and areas the groups can collaborate on to provide high quality support to students.  The collaborative shall include (among others) representatives of:

1.     The National Association of Social Workers, TN Chapter

2.     The Tennessee Association of School Social Workers

3.     The Tennessee Association of School Counselors

4.     The Tennessee Association of School Nurses

5.     The Tennessee Association of School Psychologists

This act took effect April 26, 2018.

Public Chapter 862

This act requires that induced termination of pregnancy (ITOP) reports to include whether a heartbeat was detected IF an ultrasound was performed prior to the ITOP.  The department of health  shall include data about the detection of heartbeats and the method employed for ITOPs in an annual report.  The report shall differentiate between medical and surgical methods and between  surgical methods to the extent data permits. 

This act also requires that if an ultrasound is performed prior to an abortion, the person who performs the ultrasound shall offer the woman the opportunity to learn the results of the ultrasound.  If the woman elects to learn the results, the person performing the ultrasound or a qualified healthcare provider shall inform her of the presence or absence of a heartbeat and  document that the patient was informed. This act takes effect January 1, 2019.

Public Chapter 883

This act lays the framework for e-prescribing practices in the state and the exceptions from electronic prescriptions. Requires that all Schedule II prescriptions be e-prescribed by January 1, 2020  except under certain circumstances.  Any health-related board under TCA 68-1-101(a)(8) that is affected by this act shall report to the general assembly by January 1, 2019 on issues related to the  implementation of this section.  The commissioner of health is authorized to promulgate rules to effectuate the purposes of this act.  This act took effect May 3, 2018 for rule purposes. The act takes effect January 1, 2019 for all other purposes. 

Public Chapter 901

This act requires that prior to prescribing more than a three day supply of an opioid or an opioid dosage that exceeds at total of 180 MME to a woman of childbearing age (15-44 yo), a prescriber  must do the following:

1.     Advise of risks associated with opioid use during pregnancy;

2.     Counsel patient on effective forms of birth control; and

3.     Offer information on availability of free or reduced cost birth control

Doesn’t apply if previously informed by prescriber in previous three months or prescriber reasonably believes patient is incapable of becoming pregnant.  Requirements may be met with a patient  under 18 years of age by informing parent of the patient. 

The department of health is to publish guidance to assist prescribers in complying with this act. This act takes effect July 1, 2018.

Public Chapter 929

This act redefines policy and rule and requires each agency to submit a list of all policies, with certain exceptions, that have been adopted or changed in the previous year to the chairs of the  government operations committees on July 1 of each year.  The submission shall include a summary of the policy and the justification for adopting a policy instead of a rule.

This act also prohibits any policy or rule by any agency that infringes upon an agency member’s freedom of speech.  Finally, this act establishes that an agency’s appointing authority shall have the sole power to remove a member from a board, committee, etc. This act takes effect July 1, 2018 and applies to policies adopted on or after that date.

Public Chapter 954

This legislation requires the initial licensure fee for low-income persons to be waived.  Low income individuals per the statute are defined as persons who are enrolled in a state or federal public assistance program including but not limited to TANF, Medicaid, and SNAP.  All licensing authorities are required to promulgate rules to effectuate the purposes of this act.  This act takes  effect January 1, 2019.

Public Chapter 964

This legislation requires the department of children’s services (DCS) to develop instructional guidelines for child safety training programs by January 1, 2019 for members of professions that  frequently deal with children at risk of abuse.  DCS is required to work with each licensing board to ensure any child safety programs created by a licensing board fully and accurately reflect the  best practices for identifying and reporting abuse as appropriate for each profession. This act took effect May 15, 2018.   Child Abuse Reporting Training

Public Chapter 978

This act makes a number of revisions to opioid treatment regulations.  The definition of “nonresidential office-based opiate treatment facility” (OBOT) has been changed to encompass more  facilities.

The commissioner of mental health is required to revise the rules of OBOTs to be consistent with state and federal law for such facilities to establish certain new protocols.

Rules regarding OBOTs are to be reviewed each even-numbered year and the department of mental health and substance abuse services shall submit the rules for OBOTs to each health related board that licenses any practitioner authorized by the state to prescribe products for treatment of an opioid use disorder.  Each board is required to enforce the rules.  Each board is required to post the rules on the board’s website. Violation of a rule is grounds for disciplinary action by the board.

The act also makes revisions to the licensing fees of OBOTs.

The act requires revision of the buprenorphine treatment guidelines. 

The legislation also requires (subject to 42 CFR part 2) that dispensing of buprenorphine be subject to the Controlled Substance Monitoring Database (CSMD) requirements.

The act prohibits dispensing of buprenorphine except by certain individuals/facilities and requires pharmacies/distributors to report to the department of health (TDH) the quantities of  buprenorphine that are delivered to OBOTs in the state.

The act also makes revisions to the high-volume prescriber list compiled by TDH.

The act requires the comptroller to complete a study of statistically abnormal prescribing patterns.  After the study, TDH shall identify prescribers and shall inquire with the boards of action taken against the prescribers and the board is required to respond within 30 days.  Each board is required to report the total number of prescribers disciplined each year, as well as other information.   TDH shall report a summary of the data and of the disciplinary actions to the chairs of the health committees.

The act also comprises a task force to create minimum disciplinary actions for prescribing practices that are a significant deviation from sound medical judgment.  The board of medical  examiners, osteopathic examination, dentistry, podiatric medical examiners, optometry, nursing and medical examiner’s committee on physician assistants shall select one member each for the task force before September 1, 2018. 

This act took effect for rulemaking on May 21, 2018 and takes effect July 1, 2018 for all other purposes.

Public Chapter 1007

This act allows for a prescription for a controlled substance to be partial filled if requested by the patient or the practitioner who wrote the prescription AND the total quantity dispensed through  partial fills does not exceed the total quantity prescribed for the original prescription.  The act lays out the requirements on the pharmacists and gives details regarding payments. This act takes  effect January 1, 2019.

Public Chapter 1021

This act allows for appeals of contested case hearings to be in the chancery court nearest the residence of the person contesting the agency action or at that person’s discretion, in the chancery  court nearest the place the action arose, or in the chancery court of Davidson County.  Petitions seeking review must be filed within 60 days after entry of the agency’s final order.  This act takes effect July 1, 2018.

Public Chapter 1039

This legislation places limits and requirements on the amount of opioids prescribed and dispensed.  It limits opioid prescriptions to up to a three day supply with a total of 180 MME (morphine milligram equivalents) for those three days.  This limitation is subject to a number of exceptions under certain circumstances.  These exceptions include up to a ten day supply with a total of 500  MME, up to a twenty day supply with a total of 850 MME for a procedure that is more than minimally invasive, and up to a thirty day supply with a total of 1200 MME when other reasonable and  appropriate non-opioid treatments have been attempted and failed and the risk of adverse effects from the pain exceeds the risk of the patient developing an addiction or overdose.  Prescribing  under these exceptions requires the prescriber to check the controlled substance monitoring database, personally conduct a physical exam of the patient, consider non-opioid alternatives, obtain informed consent including counseling about neonatal abstinence syndrome and contraception for women of childbearing age, and document the ICD-10 code for the patient’s primary disease as well as the term “medical necessity” on thirty day prescriptions).  These ten, twenty, and thirty day opioid prescriptions will only be filled by dispensers in an amount that is half of the full  prescription at a time, requiring patients and pharmacists to consider whether the patient requires the full amount prescribed.  There are still further exceptions for those patients undergoing  active or palliative cancer treatment, receiving hospice care, diagnosed with sickle cell disease, administered to in a hospital, being treated by a pain management specialist or collaborating  provider in a pain management clinic, who have received ninety days or more in the year prior to April 2018 or subsequently do so under one of the exceptions, receiving treatment for medication-assisted treatment, or suffering severe burns or major physical trauma.  This act took effect for rule purposes on May 21, 2018, and for all other purposes shall take effect July 1, 2018.

Public Chapter 266

Current law authorizes physicians and health officers to treat minors with STDs without parental knowledge or consent and incur no civil or criminal liability except for negligence.  This legislation adds nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and physician’s assistants to those authorized to treat minors with STDs without parental knowledge or consent.  This act took effect on July 1, 2017.

Public Chapter 334

This legislation revises the terminology used to describe the relationship between APRN’s and physicians in certain situations and instances in the Code from “supervise, supervision, etc.” to “collaborate, collaboration, etc.”  The situations are:

  • Practice in a certified pain clinic under T.C.A. 63-3-106.
  • Prescriptive services under T.C.A. 63-7-123.
  • Definition of Prescription Order under T.C.A. 63-10-204.
  • Collaborative Practice Pharmacy Agreements under T.C.A. 63-10-217.
  • The Health Care Consumer Right-to-Know Act of 1998 under T.C.A. 63-51-115.
  • Top Prescribers of Controlled Substances under T.C.A. 68-1-128.

The intent of the legislation is a change in terminology only and not to alter the relationships and responsibilities between APRN’s and physicians.    This legislation took effect on July 1, 2017.

Public Chapter 350

This will allow healthcare providers to satisfy one hour of continuing education requirements through the performance of one hour of voluntary provision of healthcare services.  The maximum amount of annual hours of continuing education that a provider can receive through providing volunteer healthcare services is the lesser of 8 hours or 20% of the provider’s annual continuing education requirement.  The legislations allows for rulemaking by the division of health related boards in order to administer this section.  This took effect on May 12, 2017.

Public Chapter 483

This requires TDH, beginning July 1, 2017, to identify high-risk prescribers based on clinical outcomes including patient overdoses and makes the prescribers subject to selected chart review and investigation by TDH.  It requires TDH, if a prescriber is identified as a high-risk prescriber, to submit the high-risk prescriber’s information to the board that issued the prescriber’s license for appropriate action.  It requires the licensing board, upon receiving the information, to notify the prescriber, and, if applicable, the prescriber’s supervising physician, of their high-risk status and require the prescriber to meet certain criteria.  If a prescriber is identified as high risk, he or she must:

  • Participate in continuing education about opioid addiction.
  • Make opioid addiction literature available in the prescriber’s waiting room.
  • Obtain written consent from certain long-term opioid patients.This consent must be renewed every 4 weeks for patients who remain on opioid therapy.
  • Comply with these requirements for one year.

All costs associated with this section are to be paid by the identified provider.  Providers identified as high-risk who dispute such identification may request TDH to conduct an internal review of the identification, which is to be done by the Commissioner or the Commissioner’s designee. 

Additionally, this legislation requires the Commissioner, on or before January 15, 2018, in consultation with the Perinatal Advisory Committee and with the assistance of relevant state agencies, to report to the Health Committee of the House of Representatives and the Health and Welfare Committee of the Senate concerning the aspects of births involving neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) and opioid use by women of childbearing age for the last two available fiscal years or calendar years.  It also requires TennCare to issue RFIs for initiatives aimed at primary and secondary prevention of NAS births. 

This act took effect on June 6, 2017. 

Public Chapter 215

This will require state governmental entities that establish or adopt guides to practice to do so through the promulgation of rules, rather than policy.  The rules so promulgated must specify all provisions included in and relating to the guide to practice.  Any changes to guides to practice made after the guides are adopted must also be promulgated by rule in order to be effective.   For purposes of this part, guides to practice includes codes of ethics and other quality standards, but does not include tests, examinations, building codes, safety codes, or drug standards.  This legislation took effect on April 28, 2017.

Public Chapter 84

This legislation requires the State Board of Education, in consultation with the Board of Nursing, Board of Pharmacy, Department of Health and Department of Children’s Services, to adopt rules for the administration of adrenal insufficiency medication to students by school personnel.  Educational training on the treatment of adrenal insufficiency required by this legislation shall be conducted under the supervision of a physician or nurse practitioner.  This legislation took effect on July 1, 2017.

Public Chapter 256

This authorizes local education agencies and nonpublic schools to maintain opioid antagonists in schools.  A school nurse or other trained school personnel may administer opioid antagonists to respond to drug overdoses, under a standing protocol from a physician.  A school nurse or other trained school personnel will not be held responsible for resulting injury unless the medication was administered with an intentional disregard for safety.  The State Board of Education, in consultation with the Department of Health, shall develop guidelines for schools.  This took effect on July 1, 2017.

Public Chapter 240

This legislation was brought by the Department of Health and was designed to address a number of issues throughout all licensing boards, committees, and councils.  This legislation will:

  • Insure the integrity of licensure examinations by making examination questions, answer sheets, scoring keys, and other examination data confidential and closed to public inspection.
  • Allow the issuance of limited licenses to applicants who have been out of clinical practice or inactive, or who are engaged in administrative practice.Limited licenses may be of restricted scope, restricted duration, and have additional conditions placed upon them in order to obtain full licensure.
  • Clarify that other documents prepared by or on behalf of the Department with regard to an investigation are confidential until such time as formal disciplinary charges are filed against the provider.
  • Eliminate the “locality rule” for administrative law.
  • Require the chief administrative official for each health care facility to report within 60 days any disciplinary action taken against an employee for matters related to ethics, incompetence or negligence, moral turpitude, or substance abuse, to the employee’s respective licensing board.All records pertaining to the disciplinary action shall be made available for examination to the licensing board.

This act became effective on May 2, 2017.

Public Chapter 481

This legislation creates a new violation of a healthcare practitioner’s practice act if that practitioner refuses to submit to or tests positive for any drug the practitioner does not have a lawful prescription for or a valid medical reason for using the drug.  It is the duty of the employer to report any violation to the Department of Health.  If the practitioner fails a drug test, the practitioner has 3 business days to either produce the requisite prescription or medical reason, or report to their board approved peer assistance program.  If the practitioner does not comply with any of these measures, it is the duty of the employer to report this violation of the practice act to the employee’s licensing board for investigation and action.  If the practitioner reports to the peer assistance program and obtains and maintains advocacy of the program, the employer is not required to notify the board. 

As long as a practitioner obtains, maintains and complies with the terms of a peer assistance program, the board shall not take action on the licensee for the sole reason of a failed or refused drug test.  If a practitioner fails to obtain or maintain advocacy from the peer assistance program, the program is required to report that information to the appropriate licensing board.  The board SHALL suspend the license of a practitioner who fails to comply with the terms of the program.  Employer drug testing must be compliant with the Drug-free Workplace requirements.  This legislation allows a quality improvement committee to share information regarding substance abuse by a practitioner with other quality improvement committees.  Additionally, this legislation specifies that the Department of Health is not required to obtain prior approval from the Attorney General in order to take any emergency action on a licensee. This legislation took effect on July 1, 2017.

Public Chapter 230

This legislation authorizes commissioners or supervising officials of departments to evaluate certain actions by a regulatory board to determine whether the action may constitute a potentially unreasonable restraint of trade.  Supervising officials must ensure that the actions of regulatory boards that displace competition are consistent with a clearly articulated state policy.  If a board action constitutes a potentially unreasonably restraint of free trade, the supervising official must conduct a further review of the action and either approve, remand or veto the action.  The supervising official may not be licensed by, participate in, or have a financial interest in the occupation, business or trade regulated by the board who is subject to further review, nor be a voting or ex officio member of the board.  The supervising official must provide written notice of any vetoed actions to the senate and house government operations committees. 

Prior to filing a regulatory board's rule with the secretary of state, the commissioner or chief executive officer of the administrative department under which a regulatory board operates or to which a regulatory board is administratively attached, or a designee to the extent a conflict of interest may exist with respect to the commissioner or chief executive officer, must remand a rule that may constitute a potentially unreasonable restraint of trade to the regulatory board for additional information, further proceedings, or modification, if the rule is not consistent with a clearly articulated state policy or law established by the general assembly with respect to the regulatory board.  This act took effect on April 24, 2017.