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Some Doctors Object to Prescription Drug Monitoring Databases


As a growing number of states implement prescription drug monitoring databases to curb “doctor shopping” for painkillers, some physicians say they object to aspects of the programs.

The databases are designed to alert prescribers that a patient may be abusing drugs, or diverting them for illegal sale, according to Reuters. Currently, 43 states have the databases, and another five states have passed laws to create them.

Pharmacists enter prescriptions for controlled substances, so doctors can see if a patient is attempting to obtain drugs from more than one location.

Sherry Green, CEO of the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws, told Reuters that some doctors are concerned that the database programs could breach patient confidentiality, and interfere with needed pain treatment. They also worry that the databases could be used against doctors who need to prescribe high amounts of painkillers.

Some doctors object to being required to consult the database every time they prescribe potentially addictive medication, and say it should be left to their discretion, according to Green. They also say using the database is time-consuming. States are trying to increase the speed of the database so that doctors can access information while patients are still in the office. Some states allow doctors to authorize another staff member to use the database on their behalf.

The article notes some doctors see laws requiring mandatory use of the databases as putting law enforcement above health care. The Kentucky Medical Association was able to fight a provision that would have moved the state’s database to the Attorney General’s office.

Many prescription monitoring databases allow doctors and pharmacists to access information from neighboring states, which helps cut down on people driving across state lines to find more prescriptions.

9 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of Jen
    Jen / June 30, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    First of all! This is should be a violation of Hippa law. It’s not the doctor’s job to be a police officer to a patient who is over 18. My guess is that there will be loop holes, how about the government focus their pea brains into something like granting services to kids with Autism in their homes, instead if making parents drain their savings to pay for therapy?!! Ya think?? Or how about giving health care to people who can’t afford health insurance YET STILL DON”T QUALIFY for MEDICAID, because 25,000 a year is considered to much money for a family of 3!! Come on people wake up law makers have their heads uo their asses! Pisses me off really!

  2. bill / June 9, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    A data base works well-The physician and pharmacists enters the controlled substance that is prescribed. When the patient either goes to a physician or pharmacy his prescription record is readily available. Doctors and Pharmacists can easily ascertain if a patient/customer is “doctor shopping”. One of these indivuals contacts law enforcement. It is a felony to recieve like controlled substances from a physician within a thirty day period without each of the other physicians knowledge. As a law enforcement officer I have no need for medical records to present a case to the states attorney. A statement from the physician that he/she was unaware that his patient was seeking controlled substances from numerous other physicians is all that is necessary. If medical records are ever needed the law enforcement officer applies for a Subpoena. Every physician should be excited to participate in the data base as they may be saving a prescription addicts life.I have been thanked by many indivuals after there arrest as they were unable to stop the drug addiction on there own.

  3. Joe Miller / June 1, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    Laws like these actually cost more lives by forcing otherwise legitimate patients into a dangerous black market environment in order to obtain their medications.

  4. Jeff / May 31, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    I am very happy to see some doctors taking a stand against this process of criminalizing pain management. The end does not always justify the means. To see the hidden agenda behind these insidious processes one needs to look no further than Kentucky where the law is passed as an aid to doctors but then suddenly law enforcement makes an enforcement grab of the data. That data would no longer be a treatment tool but would become an enforcement tool. Doctors are health care providers not social control mechanisms. When I see me doctor I want unbiased health care, not health care screened through the lens of law enforcement and delivered as as law enforcement deems necessary. I also want me information confidential, not picked over and viewed by some anyone triaging records for some state agency who has no need to view my private medical conditions.

  5. Michael W. Shore / May 31, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    I am a psychiatrist specializing in Addiction Medicine. Here in New Jersey we have just started to use the new database, andit is an extremely effective and useful tool to combat varioius aspects of substance abuse. It is not an onerous task, and can be accessed easily in approximately 45 seconds. A small price to pay to save lives and effectively fight the scourge of prescription substance abuse. Dr. Shore

  6. Joshua / May 31, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    it’s not just doctors who object to this. millions of normal people think it’s a bad idea to hand over confidential medical information to the police without a warrant, probable cause, or even the suspicion of wrong doing. let police do some investigating – this is not an unreasonable idea. if they suspect that a doctor is going crazy with the prescriptions, then get some evidence, go to a judge and get a warrant. that’s how criminal investigation works in the united states. government tyrany is not a good substitute for police lazyness.

  7. Trisha DeLozier / May 31, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Physicians who feel that way may have something to hide. If they don’t then they need to read all the 100′s of articles on physicians who have been arrested for abusing their position, which is why more eyes on the process will effectively save lives.

  8. Joshua / May 31, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    all physicians have something to hide, it’s called personal medical information. its confidential. it’s not confidential because doctors like secrets, it’s confidential because federal law requires it to be confidential. and there are a lot of really good reasons for this confidentiality. the doctors who have a problem with it are not just the ones who are doing something illegal, or who are too lazy to enter a script into a computer. they are the ones who don’t want to say to their patients, “Be careful what you tell me, because i have to report all this to the police as soon as we’re done here.” in other words, all the good and reasonable doctors have a problem with it (of couse all the lawbreakers and the lazy doctors do too, i’m just wondering if there are any doctors who don’t have a problem with it.)

  9. Jeff / May 31, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Trisha. In order to take your comment into context you would also have to quantify how many doctors (and how many times) have decided to not prescribe needed pain medication due to the fear of being targeted. You would also need to quantify how many patients have decided to forgo needed medication because of fear of being labeled an “addict” and being targeted by law enforcement. When you only look to one side that is the only side you see.

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