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Oregon Becomes the First State in the Nation to Offer Birth Control Without a Doctor’s Prescription

In most states in the nation, including both the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, patients cannot get birth control without a prescription from a doctor. Oregon recently implemented a groundbreaking new law that may pave the way for birth control laws across the country; women can now obtain birth control from a pharmacy without a prescription from their doctor.

Birth Control & Prescription Policies

All forms of birth control will now be available for purchase by those who are 18 years of age or older without a prescription from a doctor, including pills, patches, and rings under Oregon’s law. However, women still need a prescription; pharmacists who complete the Oregon training protocol are allowed to issue those prescriptions. In addition to undergoing training, pharmacists must ask women to complete a 20-question form prior to handing them a prescription. The form asks women questions about their medical history. According to an article in The New York Times, about 200 pharmacists in Oregon have so far completed the training. Further, under the Affordable Care Act, all prescription birth control is covered by insurance, including birth control given via prescription from a pharmacist.

But What About Patient Safety?

Making sure that patients are safe should be a concern of health care professionals and others who support the new legislation. According to the same article in The Times cited above, many reproductive health experts have long sought to make birth control more accessible for people. Further, there are many studies that show that obtaining birth control without a doctor’s prescription is safe, and that for the most part, women will continue to seek screening for things like cervical cancer and sexually transmitted infections. In fact, one of the biggest concerns that reproductive experts – including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – have with the new legislation is that it does not go far enough; over-the-counter access would be preferable, say many.

Can a Pharmacist Be Held Liable for Medical Malpractice?

The issue also raises another interesting question: can a pharmacist be held liable for medical malpractice if he or she issues a prescription that is unsafe for the patient to use? The answer is yes – if a pharmacist acts without the level of care that is expected in his or her position (such as writing a prescription for birth control without first thoroughly reviewing the patient’s required medical form), and if the lack of care leads to patient harm, a medical malpractice claim for damages may be pursued.

Learn More About Your Rights By Calling an Attorney Now

If you believe that your rights may have been violated by an act of error by a pharmacist or other medical professional, and if you have suffered harm as a direct result, do not wait to call the experienced New Jersey and Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorneys at the law firm of Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C. Call our offices directly, or use our online form to schedule your free case consultation with our passionate team today.

Contact us for your consultation (215) 567-3500