Some healthcare providers feel there are flaws in the drug monitoring systems that enable drug abusers to continue to score multiple prescriptions from multiple doctors without regulation. Imperfections in the current methods are being addressed before states can expect to fully rely on these monitoring systems to deter prescription drug abuse. Major adjustments in the system should allow doctors and pharmacists to utilize the program in the way developers intended.
The first issue with the drug monitoring system is the privacy of the patients. When a patient goes to a doctor they are discussing private matters that, legally, are not to be shared with anyone who isn’t involved in the patient’s care. By entering the patient’s name into the database and recording what prescriptions were given out, many people are concerned that this violates the patient’s privacy. The monitoring program can be accessed by other doctors, pharmacists and law enforcement. In order to get around the privacy laws many states have the doctors go through several waivers and disclaimers, making the program less user-friendly.
Another problem that states are encountering is that not enough doctors are willing to use the program. For instance, in Montana only 24.4 percent of eligible health care providers are actually using the program. In order to get more doctors on board, many people feel that the monitoring system needs to address the privacy concerns and make the program more manageable.
Despite the difficulties with prescription drug monitoring, it does appear to be making a dent in the prescription drug problem. Last year a county in Montana reported that there were 42 cases of prescription drug abuse fraud, compared to only 13 cases this year. Many people are attributing this decline to the implementation of the drug monitoring program.
However, with record numbers of prescription drug overdose deaths around the country, more efforts to use these programs are necessary, as the life-saving potential should far out-weigh the inconvenience.