Pharmacists Are Liable For Unsigned Prescriptions

The DEA Puts Pharmacies On Notice

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has sent out a reminder notice that printed prescriptions are required to be manually signed by the prescriber.

DEA registered prescribers and registered pharmacies are noticed that all paper prescriptions must be manually signed by the prescriber.  This mandate applies equally to prescriptions created on paper and prescriptions generated by computer. This also includes a prescription application that is printed out or faxed by a practitioner.

The DEA also sent out a reminder about the collateral responsibility of pharmacists, “the responsibility for the proper prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances is upon the prescribing practitioner, but a corresponding responsibility rests with the pharmacist who fills the prescription.”

You can read the verbatim notice from the DEA here:

Dear Registrant: DEA wishes to remind registrants that paper prescriptions, including prescriptions created on paper and prescriptions generated by computer or a prescription application that are printed out or faxed by a practitioner, must be manually signed by the prescribing practitioner. 

The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and its implementing regulations specify the requirements for issuing and filling prescriptions for controlled substances. By statutory requirement, a valid prescription issued by a DEA-registered practitioner (or a practitioner exempt from the requirement of registration) is required for dispensing a controlled substance, unless the controlled substance is dispensed directly by a practitioner. 21 U.S.C. 829; 21 CFR 1306.11

The CSA provides that a pharmacist may dispense schedule III and IV controlled substances pursuant to a “written or oral prescription.” 21 U.S.C. 829(b). DEA regulations further specify that a pharmacist may dispense a controlled substance listed in schedule III, IV, or V pursuant to “either a paper prescription signed by a practitioner [or] a facsimile of a signed paper prescription transmitted by the practitioner or the practitioner’s agent . . . .” 21 CFR 1306.21(a). With respect to paper prescriptions for controlled substances in any schedule, DEA regulations provide that a “computer-generated prescription that is printed out or faxed by the practitioner must be manually signed.” 21 CFR 1306.05(d). Controlled substances in schedules III, IV, and V may also be dispensed by a pharmacist pursuant to “an oral prescription made by an individual practitioner and promptly reduced to writing by the pharmacist containing all information required [for a valid prescription] in § 1306.05(a), except for the signature of the practitioner.” 21 CFR 1306.21(a)

In addition, DEA regulations permit a practitioner to issue, and a pharmacy to process, electronic prescriptions for controlled substances in schedules II-V provided that the requirements in part 1311 are met. 21 CFR 1306.08, 1306.05(e), and 1311.100(b),(e)

Because schedule II controlled substances have a higher potential for abuse and a greater likelihood of dependence compared to those in schedules III-V, the CSA’s controls on schedule II controlled substances are more restrictive. Therefore, the CSA and DEA regulations permit a schedule II controlled substance to be dispensed only pursuant to a written prescription signed by the practitioner, except in emergency situations when dispensing pursuant to an oral prescription is permitted. 21 U.S.C. 829(a); 21 CFR 1306.11(a),(d). 1 DEA regulations further provide that a paper prescription for a controlled substance in schedule II “may be transmitted by the practitioner or the practitioner’s agent to a pharmacy via facsimile equipment, provided that the original manually signed prescription is presented to the pharmacist for review prior to the actual dispensing of the controlled substance . . . .” 21 CFR 1306.11(a). Certain limited exceptions apply to prescriptions for narcotic substances to be compounded for direct administration to a patient and to prescriptions for residents of long-term care facilities and patients in certain hospice care programs. 21 C.F.R. 1306.11(e)-(g). However, in most cases, a pharmacist must receive the original, manually signed paper prescription or an electronic prescription meeting the requirements of part 1311 prior to dispensing a schedule II controlled substance.

What Pharmacists Need To Know About Paper Prescriptions

In sum, DEA wishes to reiterate that paper prescriptions, including prescriptions created on paper and prescriptions generated by computer or a prescription application that is printed out or faxed, must be manually signed by the practitioner. This includes prescriptions faxed via computer or a prescription application that does not meet the requirements for electronic prescriptions in part 1311. Further, registrants are reminded that “the responsibility for the proper prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances is upon the prescribing practitioner, but a corresponding responsibility rests with the pharmacist who fills the prescription.” 21 CFR 1306.04(a).

We hope this information is helpful. For information regarding DEA’s Diversion Control Division, please visit Please contact the Diversion Control Division, Policy Section at (571) 362-3260 for further questions.

What Happens to Nurses Who Get a DUI? Nevada Board of Nursing DUI Protocols

nurse facing dui charge

Driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol, and other controlled substances is a serious charge in the state of Nevada. Offenders of DUI often face harsh penalties such as high fines, possible jail time, revoked driver’s licenses, community service, and mandatory treatment. For nurses who are charged with DUI, the penalties may be even more severe, possibly resulting in devastating complications regarding their careers. 

Even first-time criminal offenses can affect a nurse’s license depending on the severity of the crime and the circumstances surrounding the offense. While DUI charges are taken very seriously in Nevada, the state also recognizes the need to help those struggling with substance abuse, especially nurses. So, if you’re wondering “can you have a DUI and be a nurse?”, or “can a DUI affect your nursing license?” read below to learn more.    

How Does a DUI Charge Affect Nurses in Nevada?

Due to the nature of a nurses’ responsibilities, they are held to high standards of accountability and professionalism. Chapter 632.120 of the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) discusses nursing in the state of Nevada which includes proper conduct, duties, and regulations. These statutes help determine whether an applicant meets the criteria to hold a nursing license in Nevada. As part of this statute, all eligible nursing applicants are required to disclose any and all criminal convictions, including DUI misdemeanors or felonies in the application process. 

According to Nevada law, a nurse that has been convicted of a misdemeanor who fails to disclose such information in their license application may have their license denied or revoked by the Board of Nursing for fraudulent or false representation. Several considerations will come into play to determine the licensee’s outcome. Not only will the Board weigh the nurse’s risk to themselves as well as public safety, but they will also consider the following conditions:

Can You Have a DUI And Be a Nurse?

In short, the answer is yes, you can have a DUI and be a nurse in Nevada. However, that doesn’t guarantee that the Board of Nursing will allow you into the field or approve your license to do so. As stated above, many factors are taken into consideration when deciding if an applicant with a misdemeanor DUI charge is eligible to become a registered nurse. Even if a nurse charged with DUI is approved by the Board, it’s likely that they will face certain repercussions in order to continue practicing. 

Can a DUI Affect Your Nursing License?

DUI charges come with a variety of penalties set forth and enforced by the law. Nurses who are convicted of DUI will face such penalties along with additional disciplinary action from the Board of Nursing. Penalties will vary case by case and are determined and agreed upon by the Board. Discipline from the Board may include:

What Happens If a Nurse Doesn’t Report a DUI Charge to the Board of Nursing?

It is the responsibility of the nurse to report and disclose all criminal convictions, including a DUI charge. Trying to keep such information from the Board or your employer may result in serious repercussions, more so than if you simply tell the truth about your crime. Remember, just because you don’t tell the Board about your charges doesn’t mean that they won’t find. In some cases, law enforcement may report the incident to your employer or office talk may get around to the wrong person. The best thing you can do is be honest about your convictions, and request legal aid from a qualified Nevada DUI attorney.

Contact a Nevada DUI Attorney Today 

Spartacus Law Firm will fight to make sure that your rights are protected. A DUI is a serious legal matter and should be handled by a serious legal defense team. We will aggressively represent you to avoid penalties, fines, and damage to your nursing career. Contact us today for a free in-person or virtual consultation. We are available 24/7 to assist.

For a FREE initial consultation, call (702) 660-1234.