ALABAMA (WHNT) – State health officials say there will be changes to the way some Alabama intravenous therapy businesses are allowed to operate after an investigation found the businesses were allowing unqualified people to practice medicine.

The Alabama Board of Medical Examiners (ABME) said these businesses offer “a menu of additives” to basic IV saline bags, often marketing them as a “cocktail” or “infusion” that can cure dehydration, headaches, nausea, hangovers, and other medical conditions.

The ABME says its investigation found numerous instances where a medically unqualified or underqualified person was evaluating, diagnosing, and treating patients at a substantial number of these types of businesses in Alabama. While some IV businesses have an association with a physician, in most instances, the doctor was not on site and had no interaction with any patients.

After the investigation, representatives from multiple retail IV businesses requested that ABME clarify the legality of their operations.

The board issued a declaratory ruling in response that is meant to ensure retail IV businesses comply with Alabama law.

The board ruled that from now on:

  • A physician or a physician assistant (PA), a Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner (CRNP) or a Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) must personally evaluate patients, diagnose patients and make treatment recommendations.
  • The physician or PA, CRNP or CNM must create medical records about the patient that comply with Alabama law.
  • A prescription must first be issued by the physician or PA, CRNP or CNM before IV therapy can be administered.

“Patient safety is our top priority and we will take appropriate action whenever an investigation reveals someone in Alabama is practicing medicine without a license,” said William Perkins, Executive Director of the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners in a statement. “We want to make sure clinic operators and the public understand what is required for these businesses to operate legally in Alabama.”

The Board is also working with the Alabama Board of Pharmacy to ensure that the IV medications used in these businesses are obtained from legitimate and properly permitted sources.

“The Board of Pharmacy works diligently to ensure that all sources of medications are reviewed for compliance with Alabama’s statutes and regulations,” said Donna Yeatman, Executive Secretary of the Alabama Board of Pharmacy. “We will work collaboratively with the Board of Medical Examiners to address any activities that violate these laws.”