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Thirteen multi-state PDMP projects were sponsored in 2012-13. While providers indicated that PDMPs gave them more confidence for prescribing pain medication, the study concluded that the easier the data is to obtain, the more they will be used, and the safer the practice can be.
Effective monitoring systems [PDMPs] will augment clinical judgment, provide evidence of misuse, and facilitate prescription of the most appropriate analgesic for the situation…The Emergency Department is regarded as the nation’s safety net…the last bastion of around-the-clock access to care … Unfortunately, some of the solutions to opioid misuse [limiting ED physicians to 3-day opioid prescriptions] preempts judgments from trained emergency medical providers.
Attention to patterns of prescription requests and the prescribing of opioids as part of an ongoing relationship between a patient and a healthcare provider can decrease the risk of diversion. Periodic review of state PDMP, where available, is also a useful tool to monitor compliance. Evaluation should initially include…a drug history… Documentation is essential.
Whenever possible, orthopaedic surgeons should request and review old medical records and speak with the patient’s primary physician about past medication problems. Currently, states have Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs designed to assist law enforcement in the identification of doctor shoppers; these data are also accessible to physicians.
Always check the medical record… and a prescription drug monitoring database.
Although relieving pain and reducing suffering are primary emergency physician responsibilities, there is a concurrent duty to limit the personal and societal harm that can result from prescription drug misuse and abuse.
In 2012, both New York and Tennessee required prescribers to check their state’s PDMP before prescribing painkillers.
The results one year later:
New York realized a 75% drop and Tennessee a 36% drop in patients who were seeing multiple prescribers to obtain the same drugs.
The abuse of opioid pain medication has a devastating impact on public health and safety in this country, killing 46 people every day… Prescription Drug poisoning deaths – now over 30,000/yr – outnumber deaths from motor vehicle crashes.
The AAOS recommends the following tools, which have been shown to significantly reduce medication errors:
- computerized physician order entry
- computerized decision support systems
- computerized monitoring of adverse drug events
- pharmacist-assisted rounds
- high-risk drug protocols
Overdose deaths are “just the tip of the iceberg”: that for every death there are many more hospital treatment admissions, emergency room visits, people who abuse or are dependent on prescription drugs and nonmedical users.
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%.