Dr. Jana Burson, in her opioid treatment blog, has written two important and interesting entries on the value of prescription monitoring programs (entry 1, entry 2). Prescription monitoring allows approved physicians to review a database listing controlled substances a patient receives (like opioids or benzodiazepines), the prescribing physician, and the pharmacy that filled the prescription.
This information is extremely useful for monitoring patient behavior in opioid treatment and helping to provide a measure of patient accountability. Some patients have a pattern of doctor shopping and abusing prescription medications even after entering opioid treatment. This monitoring program allows doctors to identify doctor shopping activities and to intervene with their patients who may be abusing prescription meds or selling them.
Dr. Burson writes that 42 states have approved a prescription monitoring program, and a majority of them already have the program up and running in their state. One notable exception is the state of Florida. Dr. Burson writes that Florida’s Governor Scott has blocked the implementation of the prescription monitoring program. This is detrimental to identifying & managing prescription abuses across the state. It is reported that Governor Scott has been contacted by other State Governors urging him to reconsider.
Methadone and suboxone treatment programs aim to help their clients change their lifestyle & behavior, and to make choices rooted in healthy recovery. Prescription monitoring enables treatment professionals to assist their clients in examining negative behaviors and correcting them.
Some individuals who doctor shop find themselves in legal trouble and facing possible incarceration. This can derail a client’s opioid treatment, as well as compromise the integrity and reputation of the methadone treatment program trying to serve addicted people. It is much better to identify prescription abuses early on and to intervene quickly.
Prescription monitoring programs are ideal for the safety and security of clients and the welfare of communities. The over-prescribing of opioids and benzodiazepines has become a major problem in the United States, and prescription monitoring is a huge forward step in rectifying this troubling issue.