System provides doctors with instant drug history information
Doctors cite myriad reasons for not taking advantage of state prescription drug databases, even though health officials encourage the use of such tools more than ever in light of the country's opioid crisis.
In North Carolina, where it's voluntary and the prescription drug monitoring program database is used for only about 6 percent of prescriptions docs write, many complain that the computer program is cumbersome and time-consuming, according to a report in the Charlotte Observer. But that doesn't prove true when physician Don Teater, M.D., a primary care physician and drug addiction specialist, can call up a patient's information on the state's prescription database in about 60 seconds, the newspaper says.
But whatever the reason, two researchers from the Carolinas Healthcare System are leading a pilot project, which is now limited mainly to the metro area of Charlotte, to help solve the problem. With a $400,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they have devised a system that provides doctors with instant information about a patient without having to log into the state's database, the newspaper said.
When doctors prepare to write an electronic prescription for an opioid painkiller or a benzodiazepine, they get an automatic notification on their computer screen warning them that the patient has risk factors, which might be a history of substance abuse, requests for early refills or recent prescriptions for the same drugs. Research is ongoing to see how the system impacts prescribing.
Clinical Research Director Rachel Seymour told the newspaper the system does not require any additional steps for a physician to access a patient's prescription drug history. "We are trying to improve safety. We're trying to address primary prevention and identify patients who are at risk," she said.
Earlier this year, American Medical Association President Steven J. Stack issued a set of suggested changes practitioners can make to help resolve the addiction crisis, including making use of drug monitoring databases.