Are you looking to open an intravenous (IV) hydration therapy or vitamin/nutrient therapy business? Or, perhaps you already own one and are wondering what legal issues surround such a business. You are not alone. IV therapy businesses are on the rise. According to one market research firm, the IV hydration industry is a $2 billion industry and there are about 626 businesses in the United States alone. Sometimes these businesses are known as “drip bars.” Consumers who visit these facilities can get infusions of saline, vitamins, and other prescription drugs. People suffering from low energy or hangovers may find these businesses very attractive.

Our law firm helps businesses like yours navigate these legal issues. We specialize in helping health and wellness providers reduce their legal risk so that they can deliver products and services that enhance individual wellbeing. Although each IV hydration business will face unique legal challenges, there are some legal issues that are common to most IV therapy businesses:

  1. IV Therapy is the practice of medicine. IV therapy products are prescription drugs, so it involves the practice of medicine or advanced practice nursing. Thus, if a nurse wants to deliver IV hydration therapy services, they would likely need to partner in some fashion with a licensed health care professional who is able to prescribe and dispense the IV bag.
  2. Types of licensed providers who can serve as “medical director.” Which licensed providers are able to do that will vary by state, but medical doctors will likely always be one option. Sometimes other providers can order and dispense such drug products, like advanced practice nurses, dentists, podiatrists and optometrists.
  3. Whether the prescribing provider can delegate the IV therapy services, and to whom. Even if those licensed providers have the authority to order and dispense IV therapy bags, they may not be able to delegate such activities to others like nurses or unlicensed persons. The state may impose restrictions on how the prescribing provider must collaborate or interact with the person who is actually delivering the IV therapy services.
  4. Whether the prescribing provider must own a portion of the IV therapy business. Who can own and operate a drip bar will be regulated by state laws involving scope of practice, fee splitting and corporate practice of medicine. Associated with these laws are issues of whether the prescribing provider must be part or full owner of the IV hydration clinic. Some states require more than 50% ownership by a licensed physician, other states require less than that, and some state do not have any guidance on the issue. Also, some states dictate the type of legal entity that must be registered with the state to deliver medical services.
  5. Levels of prescribing provider supervision. Whether and how the prescribing provider must supervise the person delivering the hydration therapy services is also dictated by state law, unless insurance is billed, in which case insurance requirements may come into play. Many times the level of supervision depends on who is delivering the IV hydration services. For example, if it is someone who does not have a health care professional license, such as a cosmetologist, supervision by the prescribing provider may be onsite and “in the room” where the services are delivered. On the other hand, if the person delivering the services is a licensed registered nurse, physician supervision may be remote with less frequent check-ins. It all depends on the state’s licensing laws and the persons involved in the IV hydration business.
  6. Who can bill for IV hydration therapy services. Regardless of whether insurance covers any of the hydration therapy services (it often does not), state licensing laws may require the prescribing provider to bill for the services, not the IV hydration therapy business (assuming that the prescribing provider is not an owner of the IV hydration therapy business). Even further complicating matters, state law may not allow an IV therapy business to exist unless a prescribing provider is the owner of the business. This does not mean that an unlicensed person cannot be part of the IV hydration therapy trend. It just means that they may need to rethink their business model so that they can reduce compliance risk as much as possible.
  7. Whether there are any local laws that regulate operation of hydration clinics. To be honest, the law usually has a hard time keeping up with trends, and IV hydration therapy is no exception. However, local public or environmental health laws may come into play and should be examined before beginning operations. For example, if your clinic plans to offer food or drink as part of the IV hydration experience (think smoothies or nutrient packed beverages), your local health department may have authority to inspect your facility. Also, if the IV hydration therapy clinic plans to offer services in a person’s home, state home health agency laws may arise as well. Those laws may require certification from the state before beginning operations.

As you can see, there are a number of legal issues that IV hydration therapy businesses must consider before opening their doors. Our lawyers can help you find a path forward that minimizes your legal risk and gives you more peace of mind. Contact us today for your free 15 minute legal consultation to see if we are a good fit for your legal needs.

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