New California law creates e-prescribing exemption for dentists who meet specific criteria

Dentists and other health care practitioners in California who issue 100 or fewer prescriptions in a calendar year could receive an exemption from the state’s existing law requiring practitioners to electronically prescribe all medications. 

But the exemption is not automatic. AB 852, supported by CDA and authored by Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa), DDS, and signed into law late September by Gov. Gavin Newsom, requires prescribers meet designated criteria and take specified action at a date to be determined after the law takes effect in January 2023.

The exemption will be available to prescribers who register with the California State Board of Pharmacy and state that they meet one or more of the following:

  • They issue 100 or fewer prescriptions per calendar year.
  • Their practice is in the area of an emergency disaster declared by a federal, state or local government.
  • They are unable to issue electronic data transmission prescriptions due to circumstances beyond their control.

Prescriber registration with Board of Pharmacy will be enabled in 2023

Although the law takes effect Jan. 1, the Board of Pharmacy is responsible for creating the prescriber registration and does not expect to have it ready by the first of the year. CDA is working with the board to make the registration process as smooth and inexpensive as possible for dentists and will keep members updated about its availability. The board has confirmed the registration will be online and annual with email reminders sent to registered prescribers. 

CDA supported AB 852 but cautions dentists who wish to be exempted from the electronic prescribing requirement to carefully evaluate and forecast their prescribing numbers to confidently determine they will fall below the threshold of 100 or fewer prescriptions per calendar year. Dentists should do this before they register with the Board of Pharmacy. Until successful registration with the board, and for all dentists who issue more than 100 prescriptions annually, electronic prescribing for all medications remains the law. 

A few other exemptions for the existing e-prescribing requirements already exist, such as due to a temporary service interruption or technological failure.

E-prescriptions submitted via noncompliant software can be declined

The new law also authorizes a pharmacy, pharmacist or other authorized practitioner to decline to dispense or furnish an electronic prescription submitted via software that fails to meet any one of specified criteria, including compliance with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

Two CDA Endorsed Services, ePrescribe by Henry Schein One and iCoreRX from iCoreConnect, offer compliant electronic prescribing software with exclusive pricing for CDA members and assistance with installation. 

Members can also log in to their account to read CDA’s Prescribing and Dispensing Q&A for more details about the existing electronic prescribing requirement, exceptions to the state mandate and types of prescribing software. The resource also includes answers related to scope of practice and the use of CURES, the state’s prescription drug monitoring database, for prescribing controlled substances.


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