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Physicians in Emergency Room Utilize New Technology to Thwart Drug-Seekers

  • August 14, 2013
  • RPh on the Go

prescription monitoring program Emergency room physicians, pharmacists, and other emergency department staff are accurate to within 10% when assessing which of their patients may be drug seekers. These physicians utilize a computerized state prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) to determine which patients may be in the emergency room in the hopes of being prescribed opiates by an overburdened hospital employee. Hospital staff members are often blamed for the rising use of opiates, with many citing that these medications are often given in error to those who may be seen as drug seeking or addicts. The prescription monitoring program allows medical practitioners to check against a database how often someone seeking treatment in the ER has been prescribed opiates in the last 365 days. The PDMP classified 23.2% of patients as habitual drug seekers, whereas emergency room staff classified 35.6% of these patients as drug seekers. 6.5% of patients received a change in medication, and 3% did not receive a change in medication.

Identifying patients who may be addicted to opiates can be difficult. The introduction of PDMP in hospitals throughout the country means that there is more of a chance that medical practitioners in a hospital setting will be able to treat and react to pain management for their patients on a realistic scale. Restricting opiate abusers access to these medications is crucial, and the use of PDMP has been proven to help find the balance between treating pain and curtailing medication abuse. Patients who have a suspicious history, exaggerated symptoms that did not match their physical examination, or have been prescribed opiates more than four times in a year’s time are more likely to abuse these medications.

Pain management and obtaining a satisfactory standard of care for all patients are key in any pharmacy setting. Whether a pharmacist is on staff at a hospital or staffing a local clinic, ensuring that patients are not abusing opiates is critical. The rise of opiate use among youth and young adults has skyrocketed, and often these medications are obtained from parents who have been prescribed the medication and do not properly store it. Ensuring that patients know how to store their opiates can help to curtail the misuse of these drugs in youth and young adults. Stressing the serious nature of opiate addiction in youth can also help to make a patient aware of the very real dangers these medications present.

Prescription monitoring technology can change the way that pharmacists, emergency personnel, and hospitals treat pain management. Controlling a drug seeker’s access to these types of medication is just one step in the ongoing battle against prescription drug abuse. PDMP helps to identify drug seekers, and prevent them from accessing opiate drugs that further their addiction. It also allows emergency room practitioners to trust their knowledge, while checking a patient’s information against a database which ensures that he or she is not a habitual drug seeker attempting to gain opiate medication. Using PDMP in the emergency room, or even in a retail pharmacy setting, helps to control the rise of opiate addiction and abuse in the United States.

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