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by Chetak Patel
Published on November 13, 2016

Dr. Chetak Patel, department of emergency medicine, University of South Carolina/Palmetto Health Richland will share insight on prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP) during an HIT Talk at 4:45 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 16, at the Cerner Health Conference, in Kansas City, Missouri.

This country is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic as millions of Americans struggle with pain and addiction. Recent headlines have brought this issue to the forefront and sparked a desperately needed national conversation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids killed more than 28,000 people in 2014, more than any year on record.

There are many factors that contribute to the increase in abuse, but the reality is, prescription drugs are more accessible now than ever before. Some individuals abuse the system by getting appropriately prescribed medications from friends and family. Others are counting on the fact that providers are not aware of their addiction as they hop from one health care system to another to get their fix.

The emergency department is a frequent entrypoint for drug-seekers, and physicians struggle with knowing for certain whether an individual truly needs pain medication versus those who are abusing drugs, but we need to do our part as emergent providers and then remove ourselves from the equation. Integrating PDMP data into the clinical workflow can help streamline.

Forty-nine states have mandated PDMP electronic databases used to track the prescribing and dispensing of controlled prescription drugs to patients. This vital information becomes even more valuable when integrated into the electronic health record system that’s embedded with an analytics solution. 

This integrated analysis presents the provider with risk scores for the patient within the clinical workflow, displaying a color-coded, three-digit score based on analysis of previously collected data including:

  • Number of providers
  • Number of dispensing pharmacies
  • Amount of drug equivalent units/days supply
  • Amount of drug overlay in history
  • Current number of active prescriptions 

With just a glance, the three-digit scores help practitioners determine whether closer review of a patient’s history is needed before making prescribing decisions. If further inspection of the controlled substance prescribing history is needed, the provider is able to quickly pull up a report of the data available from the network of connected state PDMPs.

By utilizing these tools, we’re able to improve efficiency by quickly identifying potential drug misuse while avoiding unnecessary labs and CT tests, increase comfort and confidence in prescribing and dispensing medication and, most importantly, improve patient safety.

If we as an industry do our part and get ahead of the epidemic, we can decrease and possibly eliminate unintentional prescribed-opioid overdoses and help save lives.

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