Wednesday, June 27, 2012
This Week's News
This Week's News
HHS launches pilot program to reduce prescription drug abuse
Physicians in Indiana and Ohio will be better positioned to care for patients with prescription drug use problems, thanks to a new pilot program by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that provides patient drug use data at the moment of care.
The pilot program, which launched June 21, gives physicians real-time access to statewide electronic databases known as "prescription drug monitoring programs" (PDMP), which collect, monitor and analyze prescribing and drug dispensing data.
According to Farzad Mostashari, MD, national coordinator for health information technology, the pilot program will turn databases that already exist into more useful tools for patient care. "The PDMP pilot projects … will help hospital staff identify a patient's controlled substance history at the point of care to enable better targeting appropriate treatments and reduce the potential of an overdose or even death," Dr. Mostashari said in a news release.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called the rise in prescription drug overdose deaths an "epidemic," as unintentional overdoses now rival motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of all injury-related deaths.
"When properly constructed and operated, PDMPs can be a key tool for physicians to use in combating prescription drug abuse while ensuring patients get the treatment they need for pain and suffering," AMA President-elect Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, said in a statement. "The AMA has advocated for PDMP data to be available to physicians at the point of care as part of their normal workflow and is pleased to see the [Obama] administration making strides toward this goal."
The pilot project in Indiana will supply emergency department staff with a patient's controlled substance prescription history via the hospital's care management system, while the Ohio pilot project will provide this data to physicians in ambulatory care settings through electronic health records systems.
Physicians also can play a role in counseling their patients about prescription drug misuse and diversion. The AMA provides an online continuing medical education activity to help physicians identify ways to educate their patients about this important issue.