DrFirst Healthcare Technology Blog

Say NO to Drug Abuse By Saying YES To E-Prescribing

January 27, 2010


Doctors who are electronically prescribing have more power than ever to help put an end to our nations increasing prescription drug abuse problem.

Prescription pill abuse is growing at an incredible rate, and is most prevalent amongst our children ages 12-17. Pills that are being abused are highly addictive and can be lethal when taken without proper guidance from a doctor. The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) states that, “prescription drugs account for the second most commonly abused category of drugs, behind marijuana and ahead of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and many other drugs. Prescription drug abuse poses a unique challenge because of the need to balance prevention, education and enforcement, with the need for legitimate access to controlled substance prescription drugs.”

Electronic prescribing allows doctors to view a patient’s medication history (up to 2 years of prescriptions)* and pharmacy fill history, giving them the information needed to identify if a patient is “doctor shopping.” Doctor shopping is when a “patient” visits multiple doctors to obtain multiple prescriptions for the same condition or to obtain an unnecessary prescription either for personal abuse or with the intent to sell to the public Several Rcopia users have told us anecdotes where, through the use of PBM/Pharmacy History they were able to identify patients who were abusing prescription drugs.

Patients have a responsibility, too

Although doctors that e-prescribe now have a new weapon against this epidemic, the responsibility to help curb this issue does not fall solely on their shoulders. A large percentage of drug abusers steal drugs from their parents, grandparents or friends. Patients need to realize it is critical to keep all prescription drugs in a safe location, and when you no longer need the medication you must dispose of it properly (which does not mean flushing it down the toilet, as those drugs get into our water supply).

For more information on the rising trends of prescription drug abuse in the United States and for guidelines on how to prevent it, visit the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

*Some states do not allow medication history to include narcotic pain medications and/or behavioral medications.

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About the Author

Peter Kaufman CMO

Schooled at MIT, Dr. Kaufman nurtured a strong interest in medical informatics while a Bowman Gray School of Medicine faculty member. After entering private practice he founded PiNK software in 1996 to produce EMR software, later becoming DrFirst’s chief medical officer upon its founding. He lectures nationally on various healthcare IT topics, and as a board certified gastroenterologist, he continues a limited clinical practice. Dr. Kaufman is a member of the Health IT Standards Committee, Privacy and Security Workgroup for ONC (Office of the National Coordinator for Healthcare Information Technology). Representing the American Gastroenterology Association’s (AGA), Dr. Kaufman is a delegate to the AMA and was the co-chair of the Physicians Electronic Health Record Consortium (PEHRC). He has participated on workgroups at CCHIT (stand-alone e-prescribing), HIMSS (e-prescribing), and NCPDP (e-prescribing).

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