Controlled substances can sometimes be needed by some of your patients who have had an injury or ailment that is causing them severe pain. These patients should be able to receive a prescription from you to treat their condition.
As a physician dispensing medication in your office, you can provide this relief to your patients. However, there are specific hurdles you must overcome to be able to dispense controlled substances. These hurdles are in place for several safety reasons, and all benefit and protect you, the patient and the community.
Keep reading to find out why the hurdles to dispense controlled substances are in place. But first, find out which controlled substances are prescribed the most.
Most Prescribed Controlled Substances
Many times, when people think of controlled substances, they think opiates. While there is an opioid crisis in America, there are other controlled substances being abused and causing fatalities.
Depending on the need of the patient, your prescriptions will vary. But in America, reports have shown that the most prescribed controlled substances include tranquilizers, painkillers, stimulants and sedatives.
Because these drugs are so dangerous, the government has created hurdles to dispensing them. The reasons are below.
To Prevent Abuse
The term abuse means someone is taking their medication the wrong way. They may be taking too much at once, or they may be taking it too often. They may even be neglecting to take it and giving their medication away to a friend or family member or selling it on the street.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 are abusing prescription medication the most. After their initial pain or ailment has subsided, many patients are able to stop taking their controlled substance.
Many others are not able to stop, however. They want to continue using the medicine because it has given them pleasurable side effects.
You may notice your patients asking for more medication than is required. They may even create additional complaints in order to continue using the medication.
These are signs they have become addicted.
To Prevent Addiction
Addiction, as you know, is when someone cannot stop using a medication without having negative mental and physical withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can be severe, which is many times the reason patients continue to use.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found nearly 20 million Americans battled a substance abuse disorder just a couple of years ago. This costs over 700 billion dollars in lost productivity, healthcare costs and crime related costs.
Patients who have become addicted will make up lies and excuses to get more medication from you. They will contact you frequently with complaints their medication is not working. This may be because they have run out of the medicine. They may even steal from your office if given the chance.
Unfortunately, addiction can often lead to death.
To Prevent Fatalities
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in the last decade 700,000 people have died from a drug related overdose. Shockingly, 68 % of these deaths involved an opioid. To break this down, over 130 Americans are dying each day from an opioid overdose.
When people die of a prescription overdose of controlled substances, law enforcement will investigate and trace those opioids to the prescriber. They will want to know how the person obtained their drugs. Many times, they are buying drugs off the street. Other times they are simply abusing the pills you are prescribing.
Some people who die from the use of a controlled substance are not abusing their prescription at all. Instead, they died because of a medical error by the physician or pharmacist.
To Prevent Medical Errors
Medical errors happen every day. Not all of them lead to fatalities, but they still cause harm. In fact, it is reported that 1.8 million Americans have been harmed by a medical error in the last year. This is including everything from a drug interaction to a death.
Medical errors happen when a prescribed drug gets confused with a look-a-like or sound-a-like drug. For example, Adderall has been confused with Inderal. This mistake can cause serious damage to your patient.
The hurdles put in place for dispensers are extra steps to help you avoid making errors of any kind. This protects your patients and you.
To Protect Your Medical License
When you make a mistake that causes harm to a patient, you can be sued.
The Medspace Malpractice Report states 55 percent of American doctors have been sued. And nearly half of those have been sued more than once. Complications from treatment was among the highest reason for being sued.
The more hurdles you cross in prescribing controlled substances can help you reduce complications and reduce the likelihood of being sued for malpractice.
Embracing the Hurdles
Rather than be offended by the hurdles, embrace them. They are put in place for your benefit.
Hurdles such as registering your license with the pharmacy and state boards, entering your data in the controlled substance tracking system, and keeping great medical records are key to prescribing success.
The good news is that if you are considering in-office dispensing, you can prescribe prepackaged controlled substances. In-office dispensing programs come with computer software that does all the work for you.
It can trace and track the medications you prescribe. It keeps records of refill requests by patients and it keeps you in compliance with all regulatory agencies.
Prepackaged medication allows you to control the number or amount of controlled substances your patients receive. You know longer must prescribe a large amount. You can prescribe as little as one pill a day.
Prepackaged medication comes individually separated and packaged for safety, including instructions to the patient on when, where and how to take it. This takes the guesswork out for patients and prevents many unwanted errors.
In-office dispensing makes it easier for you to worry less about the hurdles and more about treating each patient properly.