Board Investigation Finds Some IV Therapy Businesses Allowing Unqualified Individuals to Treat Patients

Findings result in changes to make sure operations are legal

MONTGOMERY – Changes are coming to businesses in Alabama that administer intravenous (IV) “cocktails” to patients after an investigation by the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners found some allow unqualified individuals to practice medicine.

These businesses offer a menu of additives to basic IV saline and often market them as “cocktail” or “infusion” treatments for dehydration, headaches, nausea, hangovers and other conditions.

The Board’s investigation found that medically unqualified or underqualified individuals were evaluating, diagnosing and treating patients at a substantial number of these businesses in Alabama. While some retail IV businesses were associated with a physician, the physician in most instances was not on the premises and did not interact with patients.

After being presented with the findings of the investigation, representatives from several retail IV businesses requested that the Board of Medical Examiners clarify the legality of their operations.

In response, the Board has issued a declaratory ruling meant to ensure retail IV businesses comply with Alabama law, but did not offer its opinion on the efficacy of IV therapy offered by the businesses.

As part of the Board’s ruling, 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. “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.”