Study examines how doctors use prescription drug monitoring programs

Oct. 13, 2014

As prescription drug abuse and overdose have escalated nationwide, prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) have been implemented in every state. Researchers from Oregon Health and Sciences University examined the differences between prescribers of controlled substances who use PDMPs and those who do not and reported their findings recently in The Journal of Pain.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have endorsed PDMPs as a way to reduce doctor and pharmacy shopping to obtain prescription drugs, but until now little has been known about the characteristics of clinicians who use PDMPs and how they integrate them into clinical practice. The authors examined data from a statewide survey in Oregon to compare the demographic and clinical characteristics of high and low users and non-users of PDMPs. In addition, the survey identified when clinicians access PDMPs and the actions they take as the result of this access.

From a database of more than 22,000 clinicians, the survey randomly sampled 650 high-frequency PDMP users, 650 low-frequency users, and 2,000 non-users. Results showed that respondents who were registered users of the state’s PDMP were more frequent prescribers of controlled substances than non-users. Clinicians practicing in emergency medicine, primary care, and addiction specialties were the largest number of PDMP registrants. Most physicians (95%) accessed the PDMP when they suspected patient abuse or diversion. Fifty-four percent reported making mental health or substance abuse referrals, and 36 percent said they sometimes discharge patients from their practices as a result of PDMP use.

The authors concluded that now that PDMPs are widely available, more attention to their use and impact is needed to maximize their clinical utility and make them more effective in both reducing drug misuse and increasing patient safety. Read the study abstract.

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