A survey of doctors in Oregon who are registered to use their state prescription drug monitoring database finds 95 percent say they consult it when they suspect a patient is abusing or diverting medication.
The survey found 54 percent of doctors registered to use the database report they have made mental health or substance abuse referrals after consulting it.
Thirty-six percent said they sometimes discharge patients from their practice because of information in the database. Fewer than half say they check it for every new patient or every time they prescribe a controlled drug. Almost all doctors who use the program say they discuss worrisome data with patients.
Registered users of the state's database were more frequent prescribers of controlled substances than non-users, Newswise reports. The survey included 650 doctors who frequently used the database, 650 who used it infrequently and 2,000 who did not use it at all.
Database registrants were most likely to be practicing in emergency medicine, primary care and addiction medicine. "Clinicians reported frequent patient denial or anger and only occasional requests for help with drug dependence," the researchers report in The Journal of Pain.
Prescription drug monitoring programs are designed to reduce doctor and pharmacy shopping to obtain prescription medications. The Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have endorsed the programs.
Missouri is the only state that does not have a prescription drug monitoring database. Almost all states either allow or require pharmacists to enter filled prescriptions into the database. Doctors or pharmacists review the data before deciding to fill another prescription. Rules vary from state to state. Forty-eight states have operational databases, and New Hampshire will begin using its database this year.