RD486 - Virginia Department of Health Professions 2019-2020 Biennial Report

Executive Summary:

The mission of the Department of Health Professions is to ensure safe and competent patient care by licensing health professionals, enforcing standards of practice, and providing information to healthcare practitioners and the public.

The work underlying this mission is challenging and complex. The Department of Health Professions consists of 13 licensing boards that regulate 62 health professions, as well as pharmacy, veterinary, funeral, and dental facilities. We issue over 435,000 licenses and permits, investigate complaints against licensees, and inspect pharmacies, funeral homes, dental facilities, veterinary establishments, nursing education and pharmacy technician programs. Our Boards and Advisory Boards rely on 187 gubernatorial appointees to make disciplinary and licensure decisions, set policy, recommend law, and enact regulations. In 2019-2020, we received over 12,700 complaints against licensees, opened 12,694 investigations, took disciplinary action against more than 7,000 health professionals, and suspended or revoked 781 licenses. Compared with the last biennium, the disciplinary case load increased by more than 2,000 cases, a growth of over 16%. The majority of cases, overall, involved standard of case issues, but over 2,700 related to the inability to safely practice, drug-related patient care and inappropriate prescribing. I call to your attention the robust data contained in the appendices.

The Department of Health Professions is a non-general fund agency, relying only on licensing fees, which are among the lowest in the nation.

In addition to our licensing boards, the Department is home to the Board of Health Professions, the Healthcare Workforce Data Center, the Prescription Monitoring Program, and the Health Practitioners’ Monitoring Program. The Board of Health Professions advises the Agency Director, the Secretary of Health and Human Resources, the Governor, and the General Assembly on matters relating to the regulation of healthcare providers. The Healthcare Workforce Data Center conducts re-licensure surveys of selected professions, providing the Commonwealth with valuable supply-side data to help meet the growing healthcare needs of Virginians. The Prescription Monitoring Program operates a 24/7 database of prescriptions, a resource for physicians and other prescribers in their care of patients and a key tool to prevent misuse or diversion of prescription medications. The Health Practitioners’ Monitoring Program provides ongoing monitoring services to qualified healthcare practitioners to assist in the recovery process to allow for a safe return to practice.

The Department of Health Professions actively collaborates with other agencies and stakeholders on a variety of important healthcare issues, such as telemedicine standards and interstate licensing compacts. Our Boards, along with the Prescription Monitoring Program, have been integral to Virginia’s efforts to combat the crisis in opioid addiction.

We hope this report will give you valuable insight into the important role that our health regulatory boards’ play in Virginia’s healthcare system, as we strive to make sure that regulation keeps pace with the evolving healthcare landscape.

/s/ David E. Brown, D.C.