The opioid crisis affects all of us, but what do we do when it hits us in our prescription pads?
Currently, the opioid crisis devastates various communities far and wide across the United States. In 2016, the National Center for Health Statistics stated that around 64,000 drug overdoses happened across the country. This epidemic shapes the way physicians, such as yourself, think about prescribing Schedule II through V drugs to patients. Some significantly limited the amount of opioids they prescribe to patients, and others completely turned to suggesting other methods to treat chronic pain, such as pain clinics. Efforts in combatting this epidemic requires physicians to focus on reporting abuse and preventing potential for misuse.
Identifiers for physicians, such as DEA numbers, allow them to prescribe controlled substances to the patients they serve. Further, abusers easily find these numbers on prescriptions pads which creates potential for theft. If someone steals your DEA number, what steps need to be taken, and what preventative methods are available?
Reporting the occurrence of DEA number theft to your county’s local sheriff is mandated within the first 24 hours of discovery using DEA form 106 . If you fail to comply within this time frame, you face potential for a second degree misdemeanor. Some suggest that physicians who fall victim to this press charges against the person who committed the crime; however, this is not required. Filing charges against the perpetrator suggests that a physician unknowingly became a part of the violation. On the other hand, taking matters to the courts places the offense on the perpetrators record for any future employers or doctors to see.
Also, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) requires physicians report theft to the DEA within one business day of discovery. To determine the significance of the specific loss, the DEA provides these identifiers:
(1) The actual quantity of controlled substances lost in relation to the type of business;
(2) The specific controlled substances lost;
(3) Whether the loss of the controlled substances can be associated with access to those controlled substances by specific individuals, or whether the loss can be attributed to unique activities that may take place involving the controlled substances;
(4) A pattern of losses over a specific time period, whether the losses appear to be random, and the results of efforts taken to resolve the losses; and, if known,
(5) Whether the specific controlled substances are likely candidates for diversion;
(6) Local trends and other indicators of the diversion potential of the missing controlled substance.
What options emerge when thinking of preventing prescription pad abuse? Adding an additional service, creating inter-office quarterly tasks to monitor controlled substances, eliminating prescription pad use entirely, and other small preventative changes in your office contribute to eliminating the possibility for abuse. Safeguard your office against DEA number theft with these four ways…
- MicroMD EPCS Gold, a DEA certified framework integrated with the secure reliable Surescripts eRx transmission network, saves your practice from manual entry and protects you from fraud. Notably, this eSERVICE allows submission of electronic prescriptions of Schedule II through V substances to your patients.
- Perform thorough background checks on the employees that you hire at your practice. The individuals most likely to steal your DEA number work within your team – secure your practice from this by hiring trustworthy and reliable personnel.
- Complete internal audits regularly on controlled substances at your practice – ensure that only prescriptions that should leave the office are leaving the office, and address problems as they arise.
- Use prescriptions pads without DEA numbers on them, or invest in tamper-resistant prescription pads.
The opioid crisis requires society as a whole rethink controlled substances, prescription methods, and uses. As a medical practice, physicians contemplate not only methods of protecting their patients from potential to abuse these prescriptions, but also how to safeguard themselves against fraudulent scripts and theft.