Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, our Surgeon General, recently released a report that, among other things, highlights the gap between the widespread substance use disorder problems the country faces and the relatively small amount of abuse treatment. Here’s an excerpt from the New York Times article.

The majority of people who misuse substances do not develop a use disorder, the report said. But roughly one in seven Americans — 14.6 percent of the population — are expected to develop such a disorder at some point.

Only about 10 percent of people with a substance use disorder receive any type of specialty treatment, the report said. And while more than 40 percent of people with such a disorder also have a mental health condition, fewer than half receive treatment for either.

This problem touches everyone. We can change our approach to detect this sooner and get at-risk patients into treatment. Checking every patient, every time, for their prescription history helps find these at-risk patients sooner and more often.

How do you find at-risk patients? Do you check everyone, every time? Let me know how you identify your 14.6%.

Use of a state PDMP may help identify patients who are at high risk for diversion or doctor shopping… To quantify the effects of PDMPs, studies were conducted of ED providers who cared for adult patients with pain. Of the patients with complete data in one study, information from the state’s PDMP System altered prescribing practice in 41%.

ACEP - Annals of Emergency Medicine - 525

Doctors (and other clinicians) need to know what prescriptions have been given to their patients by other practitioners. This information should be included in the patients’ electronic health care records accessible through a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) that provides immediate information.

Presentation by the Dir., Div. of Epidemiology  NIH, National Institute on Drug Abuse, May 2013
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