49 states, DC, and Guam have Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs).
Prescription drug monitoring programs allow doctors to take an active role in preventing prescription drug abuse and diversion. Also, a PDMP provides information regarding a patient’s history of prescribed controlled substance use. As you can imagine, utilizing this technology provides many benefits to your practice. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Avoid inappropriate prescribing
Individuals struggling with prescription drug misuse, or who are diverting prescription drugs for sales, often doctor shop. Doctor shopping is going from physician to physician and describing conditions that warrant the dispersion of controlled substances. In the past, it was difficult for providers to know if this was happening. Physicians often found themselves prescribing controlled substances to patients inappropriately due to patient’s nefarious plans. A PDMP allows providers to identify situations in which they should not be prescribing a controlled substance to a patient. This enables them to avoid adding to an existing problem and move towards better medication adherence.
Identify drug-seeking behavior
Similar to allowing providers to avoid prescribing when it would be inappropriate to do so, a PDMP allows providers to identify patterns in a patient’s record. These patterns may indicate a history of doctor shopping or abuse. This knowledge could allow the provider to see the patient’s behavior in their appointment in a different light. Thus, helping them to determine if the patient truly needs a prescription or if something more concerning is taking place. For example, patients seeking controlled substances for diversion or misuse, are well-versed in the conditions and symptoms that warrant such prescriptions. Their responses and concerns in an appointment can sound rather textbook. However, to a doctor who has no reason to be suspicious, that could just seem like a clear indication that the prescription is necessary. Seeing a pattern of behavior or a concerning history within the PDMP allows the provider to reconsider their position.
Allow providers to intervene when signs of prescription drug misuse appear
Avoiding inappropriate prescribing and identifying drug seeking behavior are fantastic. However, they’re only the beginning of what needs to be done to combat this epidemic. Because providers are able to identify patients who may be abusing or misusing prescription drugs, use of prescription drug monitoring programs gives the provider the ability to intervene in these situations. The provider can then determine if the patient needs to be referred for counseling, or some sort of drug treatment. For those patients seeking to divert the drugs for the purpose of sales, physicians should contact the appropriate authorities.
The prescription drug epidemic is a scary challenge that our society is facing. By utilizing the appropriate tools, we can work to fight this at the ground level.