A new law in Florida has been enacted to help decrease instances of prescription drug addiction in the state.
The law makes it mandatory for physicians in Florida to review a database prior to prescribing addictive prescription drugs like OxyContin, Xanax, Valium, or Percocet to patients. As of July 1, physicians are required to complete a two-hour class about this law and must do so by January 31 of 2019. Additionally, each physician must take this class again each time he or she has to renew his or her license.
Not only is the use of prescription drug monitoring programs going to be required, but the way in which physicians prescribe addictive medications is to be altered, too. For acute mental health and physical conditions, physicians are only allowed to provide prescriptions drugs for either three or seven days, rather than weeks at a time. This part of the law has been put in place to help prevent more people from becoming addicted to prescription drugs that they have received for an acute condition. However, there are exceptions. For example, if a physician has a patient who has experienced a highly traumatic event and is experiencing pain that is, on a scale from 1-10, a 9 or higher, he or she can prescribe medication for longer than seven days. But, the physician must also prescribe Narcan so that the patient has it on hand in the event of an overdose.
For many physicians, this new law adds more to their plate in terms of the work they need to do behind the scenes, which is not always well received by these professionals. However, the hope is that with this new law in place, all physicians will abide by the requirements in an effort to help preserve the health and wellbeing of their patients.
Not all prescription drugs need to be as closely monitored as painkillers, sedatives, stimulants, or other addictive medications. Physicians are not required to utilize prescription drug monitoring programs when prescribing medications that possess a low risk of abuse potentials, such as antibiotics, acid reflux medications, or blood pressure medications. However, they will be held responsible for checking the prescription drug monitoring program prior to prescribing any medication with abuse potential to anyone 16 and older.
It has been reported that as of December of 2017, not even half of the physicians in Florida had registered to check the prescription drug monitoring program. With the new law in place, any physician who purposefully does not report the medications that he or she prescribes for his or her patients will be committing a first-degree misdemeanor, which could lead to several professional and legal consequences, including termination.
Background On Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs
For years, many ideas regarding how to control the opioid epidemic have come to the forefront. Some ideas have not even made a small ripple in the water, while others have stuck and still remain. Prescription drug monitoring programs and having healthcare professionals utilize them on a regular basis is one of those ideas, however, it has fallen in between being effective and being pushed to the side.
Historically, countless healthcare professionals have not included the use of prescription drug monitoring programs in their practice, specifically because they are not having their feet held to the fire by the states in which they are located. Also, utilizing these programs is known to add more steps to a patient’s visit and it produces more paperwork for the healthcare provider, which is not appeasing for anyone involved.
However, despite the inconsistencies with prescription drug monitoring programs and those who are supposed to be using them, there is still a great deal of promise behind them, which is why lawmakers have insisted on their use.
Benefits Of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs
Prescription drug monitoring programs are simply a database that monitors current controlled prescription drugs in the state. Professionals who are able to provide prescription medications to patients are to input any time they prescribed a controlled substance to a patient so that whenever any other prescribing professionals pull up the patient’s information, he or she can see what the patient has already been prescribed. The overarching goal of this process to end the over-prescribing of controlled substances. Additional benefits of these programs include the following:
- Operating on real-time – If a patient goes to his or her doctor looking for prescription painkillers for an acute condition, he or she can obtain that prescription, but then go to another provider with the same complaint to get even more of that prescription. This is known as “doctor shopping”, however under new Florida laws, this would be impossible, as providers are to input any prescription medications they provide their patients. Once entered into the database, that information goes live, meaning that other providers can see a patient’s history of prescriptions right away.
- Being used nationwide – While prescription drug monitoring programs are still not fully implemented in all 50 states when they do become part of regular practice, this program will make it nearly impossible for a patient to be overprescribed controlled prescription drugs or be given prescription drugs for a longer period of time than intended.
- Easy to use – Despite some pushback from health care providers, prescription drug monitoring programs are simple to use. All it takes is a moment to check the patient’s background prior to prescribing a controlled substance to help decrease the presence of addiction in the United States. The programs themselves are streamlined and easy to utilize.
If you or someone you love is addicted to a painkiller or any other prescription drug, do not wait to get the help that is deserved. By reaching out to us, we can help you or a loved one start on a path that leads to recovery and positive wellbeing. Do not let one more day go by without contacting us.
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